Tue, 19 May 2009 15:50:06 +0000 – By Steven MilloyAuthor "Green Hell" and Publisher, JunkScience.comThe proposed mileage standards that will be announced by Obama administration today may kill more Americans at a faster rate than the Iraq War -- president's signature issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.
Obama's plan will require automakers to meet a 35 miles-per-gallon standard by 2016, that's four years earlier than the same standard imposed by the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007.
The only way for car makers to meet these standard is to make smaller, lighter anddeadliercars.
The National Academy of Sciences has linked mileage standards with about 2,000 deaths per year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every 100-pound reduction in the weight of small cars increases annual traffic fatalities by as much as 715.
In contrast in the more than six yearssince the Iraq war began, there have been 4,296 deaths among American military personnel.
And what will be gained by the new mileage standards?
The Natural Resources Defense Council said that the 35 MPG standard would save about one million gallons of gas per day. So how does that savings balance against the 2,000 fatalities per year that the National Academy of Sciences says are caused by those same lighter cars?
For the sake of being utilitarian, let's generously assume that the mileage standards reduced the price of gasoline by $1. That would translate to daily savings of $1 million. Is that savings worth killing more than five people per day, plus other non-fatal injuries and property damage?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- for the purposes of risk assessment -- values a single human life at $6.9 million dollars. So the new mileage standards would cost about $35 million per day in human lives (not including non-fatal injuries) to save $1 million in gas.
There's also another lesson hidden in the proposed standards one that applies to businesses trying to game global warming legislation.
Car makers lobbied hard against overly stringent mileage standards in the 2007 energy bill, finally negotiating with Congress a compromise standard they thought they at least had a chance to meet. President Obama has now pulled the rug out from under the car makers and their 2007 deal with Congress.
This ought to serve as a lesson for businesses that are trying to negotiate a climate deal they think they can survive. Rest assured that as soon as business groups agree to a climate deal, the greens and the Obama administration will get to work the next day figuring out ways to bulldoze the deal in order to make greenhouse gas limitations more stringent and more expensive.
Businesses often operate under the mistaken impression that they can cut lasting win-win, compromise deals with environmental groups. But such dealings are an impossibility since the greens are ideologically driven and won't be happy until capitalism is stamped out. The greens are not interested in compromise. Like blood in the water to sharks, compromise by businesses signals weakness and vulnerability, and, therefore, opportunity for the greens.
Steven Milloy publishers JunkScience.com and is the author of "Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them" (Regnery 2009).