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60 mpg is Good Deal for Consumers, Environment and Jobs

Roland Hwang

Posted September 2, 2010 in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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Today, a consumer group, Consumer Federation of America, released a new study that clearly shows stronger pollution and fuel efficiency standards that result in 60 miles per gallon by 2025 is good for consumers’ pocketbooks. But not only do consumers win, it also means less pollution, less oil dependency, and a stronger, more competitive auto industry. It’s one of the best examples of why good environmental and clean energy policy goes hand-in-hand with lowering consumer fuel bills and restoring American industry to a leadership position.

Achieving 60 mpg by 2025 can be done by using and improving on technologies that already exist, such as hybrid electric cars and electric vehicles. In fact, according to a new study released yesterday by the University of Michigan, the technical potential is to triple fuel economy to 74 mpg, even before considering plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. We have learned from cell phones, microwaves, and computers that higher volumes can lead to dramatic improvement in innovation and drive down costs.

Raising standards to 60 mpg is good for consumers, good for the environment and good for jobs. Here are the top three reasons why we need stronger pollution and fuel efficiency standards:

Reason #1: Pays for itself. According to the consumer group Consumer Federation of America, cost of fuel savings technologies pays for itself in the first year of ownership.

Reason #2: Making cars and trucks go further on a gallon is the cleanest, cheapest, and fastest way to meet our energy needs. It will reduce our dependency on oil from the Middle East while cutting emissions of greenhouse gas and other pollutants.. Passenger vehicles - cars, minivans, pickups and SUVs – are the single biggest consumer of oil, accounting for about 40 percent of our oil consumption. To break our oil addiction and avoid future disasters like the Gulf spill, we must raise the efficiency of our cars and trucks.

Reason #3: Without stronger standards, American automakers could fall behind in the global race for the clean car market, putting even more manufacturing jobs at risk. As recent reports by the business consulting firm McKinsey & Company show and others, the US auto industry is locked in a global race to dominate the market for clean, advanced technology vehicles. In the 1970’s, the U.S. auto industry fell asleep at the wheel when it came to building fuel efficient cars and ceded huge market share to the Japanese companies like Toyota and Honda. In the 1990’s, while the U.S. auto industry chose to build Hummers rather than hybrids, it once again, fell behind in leadership to Toyota and Honda on hybrids. In the 2010’s, without stronger standards, the U.S. auto industry risk losing ground to the fast rising Chinese auto industry.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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