Portland, ME — More than 120,000 Americans urged the Obama administration to set strong clean vehicle standards that could dramatically cut oil use and global warming pollution—as well as save billions for consumers at the gas pump – during the public comment period that ended last Sunday. These citizens joined Environment Maine and the go60mpg coalition (a group of environmental and consumer groups) along with dozens of state and local elected officials in urging the administration to finalize a standard that requires cars and light trucks to achieve a fleet-wide fuel efficiency average of at least 60 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025. This groundswell of support comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s announcement that it will begin developing new fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks in model years 2017-2025.
“Americans want President Obama to move clean cars into the fast lane, by setting the highest possible fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards,” said Nathaniel Meyer, Field Associate with Environment Maine. “Citizens in Maine and across the country made clear that we should reduce our dependence on oil, jumpstart our economy, and cut global warming pollution by making our cars much cleaner and more fuel-efficient.”
On October 1st, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation, and California Environmental Protection Agency kicked off the current round of the rulemaking process by issuing a Notice of Intent, which outlined the range for fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards being considered for cars and light trucks. The agencies announced that the clean car technologies exist to reduce global warming pollution from the average car and light truck by as much as 6 percent each year between 2017 and 2025, which is roughly equivalent to the 60mpg by 2025 fleet-wide average that Environment Maine and the go60mpg coalition is urging the administration to adopt. The administration is expected to issue a second Notice of Intent by the end of November that could narrow the potential range for the finalized standards.
“I have consumers demanding cars that go further on a dollar now,” said Adam Lee, Chairman of Lee Auto Malls, one of Maine’s largest car dealership groups. “Consumers are talking with me about all the new technologies that will help get us there. The auto industry needs lead time to plan for the future, and I don’t want to wait for gas to hit $5 per gallon. I think the smartest thing for all of us to do is plan ahead, by setting a 60 mpg standard and allowing carmakers to harness American ingenuity to get us there over the next 15 years.”
A variety of existing technologies could be used by automakers to increase the fuel efficiency of new cars and decrease their global warming pollution. Conventional internal combustion engine vehicles can be made much more efficient by applying technologies like high-strength lightweight materials and six- and seven-speed transmissions, while strong standards will also help bring more hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles onto America’s roads.
“The Obama administration’s announcement confirmed scientific analysis that we can cost-effectively make 60 mile-per-gallon cars the norm and not the exception,” said Meyer. “And 120,000 Americans have spoken up in support of going in this direction. President Obama should fully seize this historic opportunity to reduce our dependence on oil and save Mainers money at the gas pump, by finalizing a standard of at least 60 miles-per-gallon by 2025.”
Maine has been a leader in the push for more efficient cars. Over the past several years, Environment Maine and other groups have built up strong support for clean cars among state elected officials and in 2005, Maine passed strong clean cars standards. This early progress in Maine and 13 other states ultimately helped spur the Obama Administration’s implementation, this past spring, of a 35.5 mpg standard for the 2012-2016 period. And prior to the Administration’s October 1st Notice of Intent, Governor Baldacci sent a letter to President Obama, applauding the administration for its progress and urging it to continue making our cars cleaner and more fuel efficient with its announcements this fall.
A recent national poll showed overwhelming public support for vastly improving the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks. The poll found that 74 percent of likely voters favor increasing the average fuel efficiency standard for cars and light trucks to 60 miles-per-gallon by 2025. An analysis released by Environment Maine in September found that this standard would result in Mainers saving $427 million at the gas pump in 2030 and cut annual oil use in Maine by 179 million gallons in that year.
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