Posts Tagged ‘fuel efficiency’

Regardless of your car needs, a more fuel efficient vehicle is available. But we can do better!

As Texas families prepare for one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, a new Environment Texas report finds that more fuel efficient cars could save Texans over $16 million at the gas pump this Thanksgiving holiday alone. The report was released as new federal fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks are being developed. (more…)

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The Obama Administration released a notice of intent on Friday, October 15 to opened up a public comment session on fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, specifically setting a goal of an average of 60 mpg by the year 2025.

Comments on this first proposal should be sent by October 31, 2010. There will be another opportunity to comment after the issuance of the proposed rules due by September 30, 2011. Comments can be e-mailed to [email protected] with the docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-0799 in the subject line.

Below is an example of a possible comment:

Dear President Obama,

We can use American ingenuity to end our dependence on oil, keeping billions of dollars in our economy, cutting pollution and protecting our coasts from devastating oil spills. The best way for you to help put America on this path is by making our cars and trucks cleaner and more efficient.

I urge you to strengthen pollution and fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks, that ensure we reduce our dependence on oil by at least 45 billion gallons per year by 2030- beyond what is expected from current vehicle standards. Thats nearly three times as much oil as we currently import from Saudi Arabia. You can do this by:–Setting new standards requiring cars and light trucks to achieve at least 60 miles per gallon and emit no more than 143 grams of global warming pollution per mile by 2025, with accurate accounting for fuels including electricity for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles; and–Setting standards that reduce fuel consumption from long-haul tractor-trailers at least 35 percent by 2017 and require all other medium- and heavy-duty trucks to increase fuel economy to the maximum technically feasible level.

We need your leadership to set strong pollution and fuel economy standards that will unleash American technology and ingenuity to help break our countrys dependence on oil.



By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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By Kirsten Bokenkamp

According to the Environmental Defense Fund,  driving leads to more than 330 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year in the United States alone.  This amounts to more than 20% of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions!  In an effort to cut down on greenhouse gases, the Obama administration’s new fuel efficiency standards require that passenger cars and light trucks cars get a minimum of 35.5 mpg by 2016.  The environmental impact of these new standards is similar to taking 177 million cars off the road.

While this is a positive change in policy, it does not rid us of our personal duty to decrease our own impact.  This is a tough one, because so many of us depend on our car for basically everything.  I am certain, though, that there are actions that we can all take.  Some of us may be able to walk or bike more, or take advantage of public transportation, while others might choose to buy a more efficient car or drive smarter. And we all can ask our legislators to spend more time and resources on energy efficient city planning and transportation.

Nobody has said that reversing global warming will be convenient or easy, politically or personally.  Sometimes, however, walking, biking, or taking public transportation to work or to run errands is much more enjoyable than driving.  Sure, it usually takes a bit more time, but you are also getting some exercise, enjoying the freedom from road rage, and getting to know your neighborhood better.  You will save loads of money on gas, and perhaps you will find yourself in a better mood by the end of the day.  Walking or biking will not only help save the earth, but will also lower the health care costs associated with obesity. It has been shown that countries with the highest levels of active transportation have the lowest rates of obesity.  Have you ever checked out the website Walk Score?  It is pretty neat – you put in your address, and using a 100 point score it tells you how walkable your neighborhood is, and provides a map showing you how close you are to grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, movie theaters, parks, drug stores, and the like.

Maybe walking or biking is not an option for you, but the bus is.  Public transportation in the US saves about 37 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, and more than 11 million gallons of gas every day! While it may take a bit longer than driving, you have the freedom of reading a book or the paper, or simply sipping on your coffee and looking out the window.  It may sound crazy, but for every gallon of gas that you spare, you keep 19.4 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere – who says individuals can’t make a difference?

About half the people in the US don’t have access to public transportation.  If this is you, there are other ways to reduce your impact from driving.  If you are in the market for a new car, put fuel efficiency as a top priority.  A hybrid car can save 16,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and $3,750 per year.  Shop around for the most fuel-efficient car that suits your needs on websites like FuelEconomy or GreenCar.  If you don’t really need a big car, then don’t buy one.  Another huge thing you can do is to keep your tires properly inflated. This saves you about 250 lbs of carbon dioxide and $840 per year per vehicle!  Other tips include: don’t use your car as a storage unit, the more stuff it is carrying around, the harder it needs to work; drive more smoothly, try to limit stopping and starting; shift to a higher gear a little bit earlier; and turn off the car instead of idling.  Of course, car-pooling when you can makes a huge difference as well.

Depending on our living situation, we all have different abilities to lessen our impact on the planet from driving.  One thing, however, that we can all do is urge our leaders to invest more in public transportation and cities and towns that are walker and biker friendly.  It is easy, and will only take a minute of your time. Sign a petition here.  In the meantime, do whatever you can to walk more and drive less.  While you are doing your part, you might be surprised at just how rejuvenating slowing down can be.

By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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While at Netroots Nation a few weeks back, I had the opportunity to listen in on a panel discussing climate change, Texas’ energy future, and energy security featuring Houston Mayor Bill White (you might have also heard he is running for US Senate).

Mayor White gave very measured, political answers. Throughout the panel, never did the words “Cap and Trade” leave his lips, but he did remain skeptical of anyone who claimed to have it all figured out and that their answer would be easy and painless. He also showed legitimate concerns about the impacts of renewable energy mandates done wrong on low-income consumers. As a representative from a consumer advocacy organization, it is refreshing to hear White’s commitment to protecting our most vulnerable even as we chart a new energy future.

Mayor White’s stated goals are to become more energy independent for basic security reasons and to be in control of our energy future. To do so, he maintains that we must reduce our pollution based on sound science, and do so in a way which does not burden low-income households. He proposes three main mechanisms to meet these goals:

  1. Cut the amount of fuel we use in vehicle travel without impinging on people’s ability to travel freely– specifically by increasing our efficiency per mile traveled.
  2. Cut the amount of energy consumed in buildings. Why drive up the cost of business by paying for electricity?
  3. Decrease the amount of power we get from coal and substitute that power with cleaner sources

Despite some skepticism, Mayor White certainly showed that our energy future could have our cake and eat it too, namely through increased efficiency in building codes, fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, and use of cost-effective renewables. See the edited video here:

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Public Citizen does not and would never endorse candidates. Even if we could, it’s hard to get an exact read on Mayor White and how he would act as the next Senator from Texas on the issue of federal climate policy — so even so we could offer little endorsement other than a candid analysis of his words and his record.

When asked off-camera about how he would vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), the climate bill which passed in the House in June and due up for debate in the Senate over the next 2-3 months, he remained committed to energy efficiency but overall rather vague. White showed skepticism as to large long term goals rather than smaller but gradually increasing cuts in emissions. His version of the bill, he said, would have strong building code mandates, a renewable energy efficiency standard (which is it, Bill?) with a price cap on renewables to protect consumers, and change dispatch priorities to wean the nation off of coal fired power. He did not, however, indicate whether or not he would support implementing a federal cap on carbon dioxide emissions or the cap and trade mechanism.

This is a question likely to come up in the next few months when ACES comes to a Senate vote, and hopefully Mayor White will have a clearer answer prepared when that time comes. But if the final answer is no on ACES, would he have some specific policy solutions about how to improve the bill, or would he just cast the same “no way, never” vote that we’ll likely get from John Cornyn or Kay Bailey Hutchison?

That being said, it is refreshing to hear a candidate speak so fluently about energy policy. Mayor White’s record on energy as Deputy Secretary of Energy stands on its own, as does his impressive work on making Houston a national leader on energy efficiency. We may still be uncertain as to where he stands on ACES, but we certainly know his feelings on energy efficiency both in word and deed – which is nothing to sneeze at.

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This morning President Obama outlined his energy and environmental policy and how it fit into his broader effort to jump start our flailing economy. It was a like taking a breath of fresh air to hear someone actually addressing the environmental problems we face reasonably. Finally!


He focused on the problems we face as an opportunity to secure our interests and security, create jobs, and restore America’s moral standing in the world. Outlining his plan in four pragmatic steps, he stated unequivocally that “it will be the policy of [his] administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs.”

1) The plan aims to create 460,000 jobs that will provide the workforce to double the domestic production capacity of energy. Among the projects he listed were 3000 miles of transmission lines to move this energy and to increase the energy efficiency of government buildings and private residences.

2) It aims to revitalize the American Auto Industry by encouraging energy efficient innovation, hoping the new cars will be produced in the US and meet more stringent emissions standards by model year 2011. He ended by saying that by 2020 all cars would get at least 35 mpg, reducing daily oil consumptions by 2 million barrels a day.

3) Referencing the Bush Era EPA’s rejection of California’s and 13 other state’s waiver requests to increase emissions standards, he said “Washington stood in their way”. California had sued the EPA for inaction…it took them two years to review their application. And they rejected it. He wants the EPA to empower rather than stifle states to make these changes. He said that the EPA will review the California waiver rejection and insinuated that it would be approved.

4) He argued that energy independence was important to secure our interests and safety, as hostile governments maintain power over the US because we depend on them for oil. Dwindling resources, hostile regimes, and unhealthy climate problems are the facts that underpin his plan and it is his intention to use these to guide pragmatic problem solving. He emphasized that facts, not ideology would be used to inform the conversation on these issues. (What a concept!) He said the aim ought to be for America to set the standard and call nations like India and China to greater participation in what needs to be a global effort to clean up our environment.

Mirroring the talking points of Public Citizen, Mr. Obama has taken the first sensible step toward a real remedy for this problem. We are happy to see someone is finally thinking in the Whitehouse. How refreshing…

You can read the president’s full remarks here.

Go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/energy_and_environment/ to see the Obama/Biden Energy and Environmental Plan.

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