Higher fuel efficiency: finally a right turn toward progress

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By Liz Foley on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Imagine having a car that gets over 50 miles per gallon, allowing you to cut your trips to gas stations in half and help the environment at the same time? Well, if proposed rules on vehicle fuel economy from the Obama administration are finalized, this (gas) pipe dream will become a reality.

In a historic move to save consumers money and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, the administration announced new rules that would greatly increase average fuel economy for cars and light trucks to 49.6 miles per gallon by 2025.

This announcement is a long time coming.  Until 2008, fuel economy standards barely budged for 30 years. Up until recently, industry has been wildly successful in blocking any attempt to raise fuel efficiency.

In 1986, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca famously said, “We are about to put up a tombstone: Here lies America’s energy policy,” after the country’s first fuel efficiency standard was lowered due to aggressive lobbying by the big automakers (Chrysler, unlike other automakers, was actually supportive of the rules).

Unfortunately back then, he was right. Since the 1980s, we’ve seen fuel economy basically flatlined.

The proposed standards will be critical to get our economy and environment back on track. They will reduce average fuel costs by about $6,000 over the life of a new vehicle.  And the group, Union of Concerned Scientists found that by 2030 these standards will reduce oil consumption by 1.2 million barrels of oil per day – more oil than we presently import from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait combined.

What’s more, these standards are supported by a broad collection of groups: small business owners, automakers, unions, national security groups and consumer and environmental organizations.

Before they are finalized, the public has an opportunity now to comment on the rules. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation are taking public comments through the end of January and will be holding hearings in Detroit, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The rules are not expected to be finalized until next summer.

You can weigh in here, using our simple form. Please take a minute now and urge these agencies to enact these important standards.

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