The leaders of the nation’s largest environmental groups today asked President Obama to create long-term relief for drivers at the pump by delivering the strongest fuel-efficiency and auto pollution standards for new vehicles currently under consideration.  The administration will propose new fuel efficiency and auto pollution standards this September, with key decisions being made this summer.  The request came in a letter signed by 34 environmental, science, and public health organizations, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environment America, Sierra Club and Republicans for Environmental Protection.

Rejecting the erroneous assertion that the only way to offer relief for American drivers struggling with near-$4 a gallon gasoline is to expand domestic drilling, the leaders of the organizations said today that the best chance the president has to create long-term fuel savings is to demand that new vehicles use the fuel they consume as efficiently as possible.  Last week, Environment America released a new report that found that if cars and trucks achieved a 60 miles-per-gallon (mpg) standard at today’s current gas prices, the average American family would save $513 at the gas pump this summer.

According to the groups’ joint letter to President Obama, the strongest standards under consideration would reduce “U.S. oil consumption 2.5 million barrels of oil per day in 2030 – almost 50 percent more oil than we imported last year from the Persian Gulf. The strongest standards also protect our health and environment by preventing two times more global warming pollution than the weakest proposal. That is as much pollution as all of America’s cars and light trucks release in over two years.”

The full text of the letter is available online at

“This is the President’s best opportunity to cut America’s oil dependence,” said Union of Concerned Scientists President Kevin Knobloch. “We have the technology to build cleaner, more fuel efficient cars, trucks, and SUVs.  It’s not rocket science, it’s just combining good auto engineering and all-American can do attitude.”

Rob Sisson, president, Republicans for Environmental Protection, said:  “Increasing CAFE standards is the first and most logical step towards reducing our nation’s dangerous reliance on foreign oil,” said Republicans for Environmental Protection President Rob Sisson.  “When my fellow Michigander, Gerald Ford, pushed through the first such standards, vehicles in the United States averaged 13MPG. Detroit’s ingenuity has cut fuel consumption by cars in half. American automakers can do better, and American workers can prosper as we export fuel efficiency around the world.”

“We cannot afford the status quo,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.  “America’s leaders need to act immediately to break our nation’s dangerous dependence on oil – not by drilling more or giving out tax breaks to Big Oil – but through better, more fuel efficient vehicles, smart transportation choices and real solutions to move us Beyond Oil. “

“Americans shouldn’t have to spend their summers worrying about how they will afford to drive, let alone whether their driving is polluting the air their kids breathe, or whether their beaches will be safe from oil spills,” said Environment America Executive Director Margie Alt.  “President Obama can help solve these problems by raising pollution and fuel efficiency standards to 60 miles per gallon.”

This September, the administration is set to announce fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for new light-duty vehicles sold between 2017 and 2025. The government’s own analysis determined that a fuel efficiency standard of about 60 miles-per-gallon and a 6 percent annual reduction in global warming pollution is both feasible and delivers the greatest benefits. This standard, according to an analysis by UCS, would save vehicle owners nearly $9,000 over the life of the vehicle at a gas price of $4 per gallon, even after paying for the additional cost of the cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicle. That’s the equivalent of a gasoline price cut of $1.30 per gallon compared to a vehicle with today’s fuel efficiency.

The joint letter reads in part as follows:  “These standards will determine the types of cars and trucks our children will drive decades from now. You have a historic opportunity to do more than any previous President to ensure that we can create a future that frees America from its dangerous dependence on oil, keeps billions of dollars in our economy and reduces the threat of climate change. We urge you to seize this opportunity by setting strong vehicle standards that increase fuel efficiency to 60 miles-per-gallon and reduce global warming pollution 6 percent annually by 2025.”

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