Washington, DC – With President Obama set to announce tougher fuel economy standards by way of executive order this morning, the Institute for Energy Research has compiled a list of simple, straight forward questions for the President to answer on this topic.

  1. Mr. President, according to your own Environmental Protection Agency, these standards will have minimal effect on the global temperatures. When EPA imposed the last round of fuel economy mandates on light duty vehicles, the benefits were explained: “Global mean temperature is estimated to be reduced by 0.006 to 0.015 °C by 2100…” and “sea-level rise is projected to be reduced by approximately 0.06-0.14cm by 2100.” Do you care to elaborate on this? Is it your belief that loss of safety and security to American families is worth this speculative and tiny benefit? (75 Federal Register, pg. 25495)
  2. Mr. President, your security detail dictates the vehicles you and your family travel in, and we are glad they have chosen the safest vehicles available. But shouldn’t the American people have that same choice for their families, in that they are able to purchase a vehicle that best suits their needs and the demands of their jobs and personal lives without added government costs or intrusions?
  3. Mr. President, according to the EPA, the last round of fuel economy mandates will add at least an additional $1,000 to the cost of each vehicle. Why would the government mandate that the citizens of this country purchase more expensive vehicles? Is this about “changing consumer behavior?” Because we sure know that it will have little-to-no impact on the climate change (see question 1 above). (New York Times, 5.20.2010)
  4. Mr. President, research show us that smaller, lighter vehicles are not as safe as larger, heavier vehicles. That’s pretty much commonsense.  With these new standards, car manufacturers will be forced to make vehicles lighter and smaller, to meet government standards. A 2002 study from the National Research Council found that the federal government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy mandate contributed to 2,000 deaths per year. If this is the tradeoff, is it truly worth it? (Wall Street Journal, 4.17.2009)
  5. Mr. President, you stated in your opening remarks that this executive order will reduce our dependence and consumption of oil. You have also stated on occasion of the need to transition to electric and hybrid automobiles – even though they are not economically viable and there is no demand in the market for them. That aside, when China controls 97 percent of the world’s rare earth mineral supply – which are required for hybrid and electric vehicles – are we simply trading one dependence, for another, potentially more serious dependence? (Institute for Energy Research, 2.17.2010)

More from IER on fuel economy standards: