Making our cars and trucks go farther on a gallon of gasoline is a powerful way to save Americans money at the gas pump, reduce carbon pollution, and cut oil dependence. Fuel-saving technology, such as more efficient engines, smarter transmissions, better aerodynamics, and high-strength lightweight materials can make all vehicles get better fuel efficiency and emit less tailpipe carbon pollution.
Right now, we have an opportunity to strengthen fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards for new vehicles sold in the United States. In May, President Obama directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish joint fuel efficiency and pollution standards for new cars and trucks. Specifically, the agencies will establish new Corporate Average Fuel Economy and carbon pollution standards, respectively, for light-duty vehicles-a category that includes cars, SUVs, minivans, and most pickup trucks- through model year 2025.
Using a combination of existing and emerging fuel-saving technology, analysis suggests that automakers can achieve new fuel efficiency standards of at least 60 miles-per-gallon (mpg) in model year 2025 and no more than 143 grams-per-mile of greenhouse gas pollution. This means that the average new car and truck sold in 2025 would achieve 60 mpg, although since this is a fleet wide average, some vehicles would have higher fuel efficiency and some would be lower.
Raising fuel efficiency standards to 60 mpg in model year 2025 would deliver significant economic, environmental, and national security benefits. It would save 44 billion gallons of oil in 2030 and reduce heat-trapping carbon pollution by 465 million metric tons – the equivalent of taking nearly 70 million vehicles off the road.
In addition to the oil savings and clean air benefits, increasing the fuel efficiency of new vehicles means that American consumers will spend less at the gas pump. Even after accounting for the cost of the additional fuel-saving technology, consumers still have significant net benefits. If you finance a new vehicle, there is a good chance that the money you’ll save on gas will cover the cost of the loan and then some.
In this difficult economy, every penny matters; every investment America makes should go towards realizing a more prosperous, healthy future. Common sense energy regulation and investment will save us money and protect our environment in the long run. Strengthening efficiency and carbon pollution standards in cars is a great place to start.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.