(San Francisco – January 24, 2012) Today in San Francisco, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) are holding a public hearing on a landmark and broadly supported proposal to provide cleaner, more fuel efficient cars for America.
Today’s hearing is the last of three on proposed fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2017-2025 passenger vehicles. Erica Morehouse of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) will testify in favor of the historic proposal, which California played a key role developing through its clean cars program and by working collaboratively with the Obama Administration.
“California continues to show bipartisan leadership in driving our state and nation toward cleaner cars and trucks,” said Morehouse. “These standards are incredibly important, one of the single most effective ways to reduce our dependence on oil while improving our energy security, economic security and climate security.”
The proposed standards call for fleet-wide average performance comparable to 54.5 miles per gallon, or 163 grams per mile of carbon dioxide, by model year 2025. Together with the model year 2012-2016 clean car standards finalized in 2010, the light duty fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas program is expected to reduce oil consumption by an estimated 12 billion barrels, cut heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution by over 6 billion metric tons, and provide $1.7 trillion in national fuel savings over the life of the program.
America’s fleet of cars and light trucks now consumes more than 360 million gallons of fuel per day and emits about 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. Under the new standards, the United States will reduce our oil consumption by an estimated 2.2 million barrels a day by 2025 — more than our daily 2010 oil imports from the entire Persian Gulf. The new standards will also put money back in consumers’ pockets. Based on the projected fuel savings from today’s proposal, owners could save more than $4000 over the life of their new car or truck. Those fuel savings will offset higher vehicle costs in less than four years, and consumers who buy a vehicle with a typical five year loan will see immediate savings of about $12 a month.
Increasing fuel efficiency is an important part of the effort to ward off the worst consequences of climate change, which will have a significant impact on California. A recent peer-reviewed study by EDF and Duke University looked at the impact a changing climate will have on just one California industry: cattle ranching, which accounted for $2.09 billion of the state’s economy in 2010. The study found that climate change is likely to harm the economy and cost hundreds of millions of dollars annually by reducing the types of natural, non-irrigated vegetation available for livestock forage and the ability of forest ecosystems to store carbon dioxide.
California is moving in parallel with the EPA and DOT to establish fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards to develop a complimentary Advanced Clean Cars program to help reduce harmful particulate matter and other air pollutants emitted from light-duty vehicles — strengthening vital protections against deadly particulates and the key ingredients in smog.
Such a rigorous program would have immediate and far-reaching health and environmental benefits, such as reducing a cascade of harmful airborne contaminants, ensuring longer and healthier lives, and helping states and communities across our country restore healthy air.
“Timely finalization of these clean air standards would allow manufacturers to efficiently align technology upgrades with the proposed fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards — securing the suite of human health and environmental protections that are available from both standards through smart, optimized clean air investments for our communities, our state and the nation,” Morehouse said.
The proposed federal standards being considered in today’s EPA hearing have broad support from such widespread groups as auto manufacturers, United Auto Workers, small businesses, American consumers, veterans and military groups, economists, and environmental advocates – including EDF.
Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Visit us on Twitter at @EnvDefenseFund and @EDF_CA, at our California blog, California Dream 2.0, and on Facebook at facebook.com/EnvDefenseFund.