Friday, June 22, 2007
Washington, DC—Consumers Union commended the U.S. Senate for passing an energy bill that will increase fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks for the first time in decades, and make other important improvements.
“We applaud the Senate for responding to American consumers who are fed up with higher gas prices. They are alarmed over our increased dependence on foreign oil and the impact our current energy consumption is having on global climate change. This legislation will help the wallet and the environment,” said Sally Greenberg, Senior Counsel for Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine.
The Senate bill also directs the Department of Transportation to develop a plan by 2015 that – if technologically and economically feasible – could have half the vehicles sold in the U.S. running on alternative fuels. This includes flex-fuel vehicles, hybrids and cars run from hydrogen fuel cells.
Last month, a Consumers Reports’ poll found nearly seven in 10 consumers would seek better fuel economy in their next automobile purchase. Households are spending about $1,000 more per year for gasoline than they were just five years ago, an 85 percent increase, according to a study released by the Consumer Federation of America and CU. Between January and May 2007, gasoline prices increased 80 cents, according to the study. The Senate measure is expected to also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one billion tons.
The Senate bill calls for an increase in the fuel economy of cars, pickups, SUVs and vans from an average of 25 miles per gallon (mpg) to an average of 35 mpg by the year 2020. Thereafter it requires the maximum feasible progress. This compromise proposal will not limit consumer choice or adversely impact safety; it will help save consumers money. According to a study by the National Academy of Science, an average of 35 miles per gallon for new vehicles is achievable with off-the-shelf technology and does not require any reduction in weight or safety.
With gasoline hovering between $2.50 and $3.00 a gallon on average, increased fuel economy will help pay for itself because the savings in gasoline expenditures will help offset the cost of a new, more fuel efficient vehicle. According to the Consumer Federation of America, increased efficiency standards can save consumers as much as $1,000 over the life of the vehicle.
“It is up to the U.S. House of Representatives now. We urge the House to boost energy efficiency standards so consumers can save money and get the cleaner environment they need and deserve,” said Greenberg.