Trump Admin Warns: Good Gas Mileage Might KILL YOU
The Trump administration is getting ready to reveal its new plans for fuel economy, and they've got a heck of a fine argument, according to a draft of the plan obtained by the Associated Press. It's really quite simple: If cars get better mileage, people will decide to drive more, and that would cause more accidents, so Team Trump will keep fuel economy low to save lives. Yes, really, not even a shrug emoji in the draft.
In addition to rolling back Obama's requirements for better mileage, the draft proposal would also challenge California's higher fuel economy standards just to send a message that states' rights only matter when it comes to not letting gays buy wedding cakes. The Obama standards, announced in 2012, had been negotiated with industry input, and would have increased average fleet fuel efficiency to 54.4 miles per gallon. Automakers had already been gearing up to meet them, so at least some corners of the industry argue relaxing the standards will just throw a lot of good research and development work out the window.
Ah, but look at the beautiful logic from the draft report, which insists "improvements over time have better longer-term effects simply by not alienating consumers, as compared to great leaps forward" mandated by government. As evidence, just look at all the times the car industry has voluntarily increased fuel economy and safety all on its own, which would be never, unless maybe you're talking about those not-American socialist snobs at Volvo. Oddly, manufacturers somehow have managed to stay profitable, even as the heavy hand of government regulation has mandated cars become far safer and fuel efficient over the years.
But instead of going ahead with the previous plan to demand dramatically improved fuel economy by 2025, the Trumpers want to freeze efficiency at previously set standards for 2020 -- an average of 30 MPG in real-world conditions. The draft claims that would magically save a thousand lives a year, because flawless logic:
New vehicles would be cheaper — and heavier — if they don't have to meet more stringent fuel requirements and more people would buy them, the draft says, and that would put more drivers in safer, newer vehicles that pollute less.
At the same time, the draft says that people will drive less if their vehicles get fewer miles per gallon, lowering the risk of crashes.
This makes perfect sense, really. Yr Doktor Zoom hardly ever drives his 1973 Chevy, Vlad the Impala, which gets maybe 8 MPG with a tailwind, and that has no doubt saved his life a dozen times or more. Like the hostage-taker in Robocop, we should all demand a huge road barge, something with reclining leather seats that goes really fast and gets really shitty gas mileage. Give us the 6000 SUX or give us death -- quite literally.
Mind you, so-called "experts" say this is a seriously stupid argument.
David Zuby, chief research officer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said he's doubtful about the administration's estimate of lives saved because other factors could affect traffic deaths, such as automakers agreeing to make automatic emergency braking standard on all models before 2022. "They're making assumptions about stuff that may or may not be the same," he said.
But doesn't this Zuby guy see that Americans don't want safety, they want cheapness, except when it comes to fuel efficiency, where they will happily drive less and save lives when the government mandates shitty mileage. Take a logic pill, guy -- the red one.
Undeterred by simple common sense, the AP also cites some insane tree-hugger engineering professor named Giorgio Rizzo, who heads the Center for Automotive Research at Ohio State University, who said,
Allow me to be skeptical [...] To say that safety is a direct result of somehow freezing the fuel economy mandate for a few years, I think that's a stretch.
A stretch Hummer limo, maybe. You hardly ever see those as daily drivers, and so they're really, really safe. Duh.
As for the contention that heavier cars = safer cars, the AP notes the experts agree that lighter cars built to higher standards can be plenty safe, and for that matter, the actual weight standards in the Obama rules and the Trump draft aren't all that difference. For a dramatic illustration that heavy isn't necessarily safer, you can always haul out this video from a few years back demonstrating the vastly improved safety of a 2009 Chevy versus its 1959 counterpart:
The AP notes the final version of the proposed rules could turn out to be different from the leaked draft; we imagine someone in the administration wanted to see how much derisive laughter the crappy mileage saves lives argument would generate before they went forward with it. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler wouldn't offer any direct comment on that part of the proposal, telling reporters last week, "I think we need to go where the technology takes us" when it comes to fuel efficiency.
Wheeler also said he prefers a "50-state solution" on fuel efficiency, which probably means revoking permission for states to require higher efficiency than the federal minimums. California has done so since the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1973, and the AP notes over a dozen other states follow the California standards as well. Wheeler and the Trumpettes insist that's simply too much regional "uncertainty" for industry, which has nonetheless managed to sell a few cars and trucks in those states for decades.
In unrelated news, Yr Wonkette has learned that the Centers for Disease Control will release new research declaring negative media coverage of the Trump administration a health risk, and will recommend all press reports be pre-screened by Donald Trump's weird doctor to prevent spikes in blood pressure.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.