The War On Cars

by Alan Caruba

Like most Americans, I had always been vaguely aware that the cost of owning a car, buying a new one, and the general use of cars nationwide, had been rising for years. We were told that this was necessary to “clean the air”, “become more energy efficient”, and “increase the use of mass transit.”

America is now its suburbs. Even so, Americans live, work and drive on a total of 3% of the entire landmass. For most people, average commuting time to work by car is barely ten to twenty minutes. Working and home-based moms use their cars 46% of the time for personal trips necessitated by day-care, school, going to the market or dry cleaners, or picking up hubby.

It didn’t seem to matter to the Environmental Protection agency (EPA) that, by 1998, most major cities such as Cleveland, Boston, and Chicago, had achieved the biggest percentage drop in average days per year that violated federal air standards. The air is getting cleaner.

Slowly, I became aware of a virtual war on drivers (and truckers) being orchestrated by the Federal government which, in turn, imposed mandates upon the States.

Then, while reading Al Gore, Jr’s book, Earth in the Balance, I suddenly became aware of the root cause. He wrote that “it ought to be possible to establish a coordinated global program to accomplish the strategic goal of completely eliminating the internal combustion engine over, say, a twenty-five-year period.” or, to put it another way, by the year 2018!

“we now know that their cumulative impact on the global environment is posing a mortal threat to the security of every nation that is more deadly than that of any military enemy we are ever again likely to confront.” This is nuts.

Gore, however, was simply putting in print one of the most fundamental goals of the worldwide environmental movement which gained governmental status in the U.S. when the EPA was established in 1970 and as non-governmental, i.e., environmental, organizations gained a similar, policy-making status with the United Nations. For drivers, it’s been downhill ever since.

Consider what has occurred under the Clinton-Gore administration. Despite the fact the air has been showing extraordinary improvements since the 1970’s laws went into effect, the EPA actually imposed tighter rules for emissions of “smog causing gases and soot from cars and light trucks beginning in 2004,” as reported in April 1998 by The New York Times.

But why? Eric Peters, a columnist, writing in the December 22, 1998 issue of the Washington Times, pointed out that, “Since at least the mid-1980’s, new cars and trucks have been equipped with an impressive array of computer-controlled anti-pollution hardware that is largely self-policing.”

Despite this, State by State, car owners must submit to intensive inspections for cars which literally test themselves every time the ignition key is turned! Moreover, less than five percent of all currently registered vehicles are cars older than model year 1980.

It doesn’t matter how energy efficient and non-polluting cars are or will be, the EPA quite simply will always raise the bar, even if it means, as they did in April 1998, condemning the very technology, catalytic converters, claiming they contribute to global warming. There is no global warming. The earth hasn’t warmed in the past fifty years. The computer models on which the claim was made is 1988 were disavowed in 1998 by one of its major advocates.

More ominous, because the vast bulk of all goods manufactured and sold in the U.S. is moved by trucks, was the EPA announcement, also in April 1998, that “exhaust from the (diesel) engines “probably causes cancer in humans.” The feds are now gearing up to include the nation’s trucking system in its war on drivers. This is madness.

It doesn’t end there. By the summer of 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was publicly claiming that replacing all light trucks, i.e., pickups, minivans, and sport-utility vehicles, with cars would save 2,000 lives each year. The NHTSA had earlier proposed putting safety belts and other devices on golf carts! The lunatics are running the asylum.

What really is happening on our highways and roads? Well, in 1997, the death rate on the nation’s roads fell to a record low. The U.S. Department of Transportation concluded there were 1.6 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. Mind you, despite efforts to get Americans to use trains have totally failed. The future of Amtrak, established in 1970, is very shaky. Since its inception, the number of miles traveled by car has risen by two thirds to more than 2.8 trillion.

In 1998, New Jersey forced the EPA to rescind its mandate for HOV lanes, maintained by a threat to withhold highway funds representing the tax dollars contributed by New Jerseyeans. Now, every State has to do the same. And we have until 2004 to rescind the new EPA clean air restrictions.

We need to understand that the air is getting cleaner, that cars not only pollute far less, but monitor their own emissions, that raising speed limits has not led to more deaths, that just about everything the EPA and other government agencies have been telling us about how awful cars and trucks are is a lie.

Mostly, however, we have to understand that, at the highest levels of government, there has been and continues to be a war on drivers.

Alan Caruba, a veteran business and science writer, is the founder, in 1990, of the National Anxiety Center, Maplewood, NJ, a clearinghouse for information about “scare campaigns.”

Tom DeWeese
[email protected]

Tom DeWeese is President of the American Policy Center and National Grassroots Coordinator for CFACT (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow) working to help local activists organize into Freedom Pods ( He is also the author of three books, including Now Tell Me I Was Wrong, ERASE, and Sustainable: the WAR on Free Enterprise, Private Property, and Individuals.