Clean Cars Would Save Mainers $911,000 on Thanksgiving Travel

Portland, ME — As Mainers prepare for one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, a new Environment Maine report finds that more fuel efficient cars would save Mainers roughly $911,000 at the gas pump this Thanksgiving alone. The report was released as the Obama administration is developing new fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks.

 “At Thanksgiving time, Mainers should be focused on clearing their plates, not clearing out their wallets at the gas pump,” said Nathaniel Meyer, Field Associate with Environment Maine  “Cleaner cars would keep roughly $12 in each Maine family’s wallet this Thanksgiving—enough to bring a few extra pumpkin pies to dinner!”

 With roughly 73,000 families hitting the road to visit family and friends this Thanksgiving, Mainers are expected to spend roughly $1.63 million at the gas pump for their holiday travel alone.  Environment Maine pointed to the inefficiency of our cars and trucks as one of the main reasons Mainers are forced to spend so much at the pump.

 “I have customers asking every day for cars, trucks, and SUVs that will go further on a tank of gas,” said Adam Lee, Chairman of Lee Auto Malls.  “At Thanksgiving, lots of people drive a long way to be with family, and if I were selling more efficient cars, it would make the holiday easier on Mainers' wallets.  If people had cars that averaged 60 mpg, it would save us $911,000 in fuel costs just this week.  That’s money that could be spent on something besides foreign oil.  It's one of the best ways to help Maine's economy and environment at the same time."

 The new report, “Gobbling Less Gas for Thanksgiving: How Clean Cars Can Save Americans Money and Cut Oil Use,” used regional Thanksgiving travel projections released last week by AAA to determine how many Mainers would be traveling more than 50 miles by car this Thanksgiving.  The report then estimated how much money would be saved at the gas pump—and how much less oil would be used—if the average car taking those trips in Maine this Thanksgiving got 60 miles per gallon instead of the current 26.4 miles per gallon.

 The report estimated the following benefits would be realized over the Thanksgiving holiday if the average car got 60 miles per gallon:

• Mainers would save roughly $911,000 at the gas pump, or $12 per family.

• 301,000 fewer gallons of oil would be consumed in Maine.

 While the Environment Maine report examined the potential benefits from just one holiday weekend’s worth of travel, a separate analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists found that a fleet-wide 60 miles per gallon fuel efficiency standard for cars and light trucks in 2025 would save Mainers $427 million at the gas pump in 2030.

 Mark Grasser works as an electronics design engineer in the recreational marine industry and lives in Eliot.  Over the last 10 months his hobby has been to create his own electric cars in preparation for what he refers to as the inevitable higher cost of fuel.  "If I can build an electric car in my home garage in Eliot without being a millionaire, you can be sure that in 15 years, this country can be building normal cars that get 60 miles to the gallon," said Grasser.  "We need to reduce our dependence on oil, and clean cars are one of the best ways to do that.  And the technology is already here – we can build both gas and electric cars that are clean, safe, fast, and economical."

 Multiple studies have shown that the technology exists today to make our cars and trucks much cleaner and more fuel efficient.  Conventional cars and trucks can be made with more efficient engines and more lightweight materials, while hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles can go dramatically farther on a gallon of gas.  

 Recognizing all of this, the Obama administration recently finalized clean car standards for cars and light trucks, covering model years 2012-2016, which represented the largest increase in fuel efficiency in more than 30 years and the first-ever global warming tailpipe pollution standards.  But realizing that we can and need to go even further, the Obama administration is currently developing new fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2017-2025.  Environment Maine is part of a broad coalition of groups urging the Administration to move clean cars into the fast lane by making 60 mile per gallon cars the norm instead of the exception to the rule.

 “We should give thanks this Thanksgiving that clean cars can reap huge benefits for Maine’s economy and our environment,” said Meyer.  “Now we need the Obama administration to push ahead with the clean car standards that will make these benefits a reality.”

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  Environment Maine is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy group, working to preserve Maine’s open spaces, protect clean air and water, and move the state toward a clean energy future.  www.environmentmaine.org