Check-is-in-the-Mail Approach to Vehicle Standards is Wrong


Imagining new vehicles in 2025 should be exciting: Electric vehicles with long ranges, high-mileage hybrids as the norm, and the idea of buying gas guzzlers is a dim memory.
Setting strong fuel economy standards for new cars through 2025 gives the long-term certainty the auto industry needs to drive technology and innovation, while delivering the vehicles that will help reduce demand for oil and cut carbon pollution. Strong standards will cut carbon pollution by six percent per year every year starting in 2017 to deliver the most benefits to consumers and the nation.
But if the auto industry has its way, the cars of 2025 will still have a hefty oil appetite.
Why? The auto industry favors a ‘check is in the mail’ approach to standards. Their plan would be to make small improvements in the early years of the program with the promise to do more later. Add to this other ‘flexibility’ – such as credits for improving AC systems; ignoring emissions from charging electric vehicles; and credit banking, borrowing and trading – and the auto industry will have its weak program.
Strong standards shift billions of dollars from oil. According to a study by CERES, a Boston-based green business group, we can save $152 billion at the pump in 2030 with a strong 60 mpg standard – pumping more than $150 billion into other places in our economy. Of these dollars, $59 billion go to the auto industry through purchases of cleaner cars and $93 billion for the rest of the economy. We could see a net gain of 700,000 full time jobs with 60,000 of those in the auto industry.
The strength and integrity of these standards will determine oil savings, job creation, consumer savings, and whether President Obama meets his goals of cutting oil imports by a third or having a million EVs on the road.
We should not compromise or accept a promise of a check in the mail. Only a strong standard that leaves the loopholes on the roadside can deliver.