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Weekly John Locke Foundation research division newsletter focusing on environmental issues.

The newsletter highlights relevant analysis done by the JLF and other think tanks as well as items in the news.

1. Unintended consequences of new mileage standards

The Federal EPA has implemented new auto mileage standards for cars and light trucks. The new rules say that new cars have to increase their gas mileage by almost 20 mpg over the next 13 years, from 35 mpg in 2016 to 54.5 mpg in 2025.

In this article, Harry Jackson, writing for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) reviews some of the (presumably) unintended consequences of pursuing this rather extreme regulation.

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analyses indicate that the mileage standards will add $3,000 to $4,800 to the average price of new vehicles for models from now until 2025.
  • 6 million to 11 million low-income drivers will be unable to afford new vehicles during this 13-year period, according to the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA).
  • These drivers will be forced into the used car market. However, far fewer used cars are available today because the $3 billion "cash for clunkers" program destroyed 690,000 perfectly drivable cars and trucks that otherwise would have ended up in used car lots… Exacerbating the situation, the average price of used cars and trucks shot from $8,150 in December 2008 to $11,850 three years later, say the NADA and Wall Street Journal.
  • Many cars will need to be made smaller, lighter, and with thinner metal and more plastic, to achieve the new "corporate average fleet economy" (CAFE) standards. NHTSA, Brookings Institution, Harvard School of Public Health, National Academy of Sciences and USA Today discovered a shocking reality — drivers in lightweight cars were up to twelve times more likely to die in a crash — and far more likely to suffer serious injury and permanent disabilities.

Ok, but all this must be worth it.  After all, these policies will reduce global temperatures by (drum roll) an undetectable amount.

2. How to stop fracking by changing truck driver safety rules

This is an excellent editorial from the Washington Examiner explaining how the Obama Administration is using a new interpretation of truck safety rules to stifle the use of hydraulic fracking for extracting natural gas.

By suddenly reinterpreting a 50-year-old rule that limits truck drivers to 11 hours on the work site at a stretch, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has delivered an unexpected victory for environmental activists.

Truckers on drilling sites spend hours each day waiting around until one rig or another needs water or sand. This is why, ever since the 11-hour trucking safety rule was adopted in 1962, truckers who haul water and sand to drilling sites have been exempted. There is no issue of road fatigue, the focus of the 11-hour rule. The Transportation Department’s reinterpretation eliminates this exemption, disproportionately affecting sites where fracking is employed. Voila – environmental regulation without the hassles of justifying it scientifically, as would be required for an EPA action.

3. Ozone Report

The 2012 ozone season began on April 1 and each week during the ozone season this newsletter reports how many, if any, high ozone days have been experienced throughout the state during the previous week, where they were experienced, and how many have been recorded during the entire season to date. The ozone season will end on October 31. All reported data is from the North Carolina Division of Air Quality, which is part of the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

During the period, August 1 to August 7 there have been no reported high ozone readings on North Carolina’s ozone monitors. Since the beginning of the ozone season there have been 111 high ozone readings over 16 days on North Carolina monitors.

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