Time to Raise Fuel Efficiency Standards

By Larry Springer

Our changing climate, the hundreds of billions of dollars sent overseas to pay for imported oil, and the devastated shores of the Gulf of Mexico and the Kalamazoo River are all examples of why we must put a stop to our dangerous over-dependence on oil.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced their intent to work on fuel economy and global warming pollution standards for vehicles in model years 2017 to 2025.

Implementing stronger fuel efficiency standards would not only reduce oil consumption nationwide, it would also save consumers money and significantly reduce global warming. That’s why I joined the Sierra Club, Gov. Chris Gregoire, and public officials and organizations across Washington state in pushing the Obama administration to set the strongest standards possible.

We urged the administration in early September to require new passenger cars and trucks to average at least 60 miles per gallon by 2025, emit no more than 143 grams of global warming pollution per mile, and to improve fuel efficiency in long-haul trucks by at least 35 percent by 2017.

Together, these standards would save each family in Washington an average of $850 a year on gas, starting in 2030. It would also dramatically reduce Washington’s oil use by more than a billion gallons, which is equivalent to taking nearly 2 million cars off of the road for an entire year.

Local support for stronger fuel efficiency standards is part of a nationwide push to move beyond an oil-dependent economy and reduce global warming pollution by achieving 60 mpg by 2025.

The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Environment America jointly established www.GO60mpg.com to promote this effort.

New vehicle standards will ensure we put American ingenuity to work, making our nation a leader in developing clean cars and trucks and helping end an unsustainable reliance on oil.  The United States, and Washington state in particular, must commit to aggressively developing alternative energy sources. We have made progress in Washington state over the past few years, and it is time to reinvigorate that commitment.

Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, is a longtime advocate for the environment, and he currently serves as the Majority Caucus Liaison for the Washington state House of Representatives.