June 2005

Auto fuel economy policies fall short for consumers

Portland, ME— Maine’s consumers will spend over $28 million more at the gas pump in 2005 than they should because of shortsighted automobile fuel economy policies, according to a report released by the Environment Maine Research & Policy Center.

On the anniversary of President Bush’s release of his energy plan, Environment Maine Research & Policy Center released a new report - “America Idles: President Bush’s Inaction Costs Americans $5 Billion at the Pump in 2005.” The report details what we could be saving if the Bush administration had increased fuel economy four years ago instead of pushing for his energy plan.

“Last month, President Bush wished for a magic wand to lower gas prices, but with a stroke of an ordinary pen, the Bush administration could require cars to go farther on a gallon of gas,” said Matthew Davis, Advocate of the Environment Maine Research & Policy Center. “Instead they continue to push for an energy bill that won’t save oil or protect consumers.”

According to the report, had President Bush increased the fuel economy of cars and light trucks to 40 mpg in 2001 instead of pushing his energy proposal, consumers and the U.S. economy would already be reaping the benefits. Although the policy would still be phasing in, more efficient cars would already be entering the market.

The report shows in 2005 alone:

•The U.S. would be consuming 350,000 less barrels of oil per day. This is more than half of our current imports from Iraq. Maine would be saving over 1,900 barrels per day this year.

•Consumers would be saving more than $5 billion at the gas pump or about $300 per new vehicle. Maine consumers would be saving over $29 million in 2005 alone

•The U.S. would be reducing its emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary gas responsible for global warming, by 23.9 million tons. This is equivalent to taking four million average vehicles off the road. In Maine, the effect would be similar to removing the equivalent of over 23,000 vehicles this year.

“The best way to reduce America’s dependence on oil and save consumers money at the pump is to make cars that go farther on a gallon of gas,” continued Davis. “Unfortunately, the House energy bill and the President’s plan are driving America in the wrong direction.”

In April 2005, the House passed an energy bill that gives new tax breaks to the oil and gas industry while doing nothing to make cars go farther on a gallon of gas.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) concluded that the policies outlined in last year’s virtually identical bill would increase U.S. imports of foreign oil by 85 percent by 2025 and do nothing to lower gasoline prices in the short or long-term.

Similarly, EIA has reported that drilling in the Arctic Refuge would not have any impact on world oil prices and the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the oil found in the Arctic Refuge would meet the energy needs of the U.S. for less than one year. Increasing the fuel economy of cars to 40 mpg, however, would save at least four times as much oil each day by 2020 as the Arctic Refuge would produce each day at its peak.

“Congress has wasted four years on an energy policy that won’t help consumers or reduce our dependence on oil,” said Davis. “Congress should once again reject this disastrous energy bill. The President should pick up a pen and require cars go farther on a gallon of gas.”


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