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Testimony: Proposed Fuel Efficiency and Carbon Pollution Standards for Cars and Light Trucks in Model Years 2017-2025

For Immediate Release

Good evening. My name is Doug O’Malley, and I’m the field director for Environment New Jersey. Environment New Jersey represents 60,000 citizen members and activists across New Jersey, and advocates for stronger clean air, clean water and clean energy standards.

The President’s clean cars proposal represents the biggest step ever taken to end our addiction to oil. By making the cars and trucks of the future cleaner and more fuel efficient, these standards will reap big benefits for New Jersey’s environment, our health and our economy.

The proposed standard has the support of 13 major automakers, as well as the United Auto Workers and numerous environmental and consumer groups. These national standards grew out of the leadership of 14 states—including New Jersey—that previously adopted state-level standards.

The clean cars standards will be a monumental victory for our environment, and the biggest step this country has ever taken to get off oil and tackle global warming. Our cars and trucks use almost half of the oil we use every day, and spew out nearly 20 percent of the pollution that contributes to global warming.

Multiple analyses have shown that the standards will achieve impressive savings for our environment, for our economy, and for our national security. We released “Gobbling Less Gas for Thanksgiving,” which evaluated the impact the standard would have over the Thanksgiving travel week alone, one of the busiest weeks of the year for auto travel. Our analysis found that if the average car or truck met the proposed 2025 standards today, over the 2011 Thanksgiving weekend alone New Jersey residents would have used 1.8 million fewer gallons of oil and would have cut emissions of carbon pollution by 47 percent, all while saving New Jersey residents $6.4 million at the pump. The standards obviously lead to even greater savings over the course of an entire year.

While the Environment New Jersey report examined the potential benefits from just one Thanksgiving weekend’s worth of travel, a separate analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists found that a fleet-wide 54.5 miles per gallon equivalent fuel efficiency standard for new cars and light trucks in 2025 would cut global warming pollution by 2030 by nearly 280 million metric tons, equivalent to shutting down roughly 70 coal fired power plants for one year; cut our annual oil consumption by 23 billion gallons—equivalent to our annual imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq; and save New Jerseyans $727 million at the gas pump in 2030.

As proposed, the 2017-2025 fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards will reap huge savings in oil use and global warming pollution, but we must ensure that the final standards are strong and don’t include loopholes which could erode the potential environmental benefits.

In the first few years of the standard, pickup trucks are not required to make improvements as quickly as passenger cars. It is vital that the efficiency and pollution reduction improvements in trucks not lag behind that of passenger cars, in order to maintain the benefits of oil savings and pollution reductions from the standards.

In New Jersey, the car is still king. That’s why these fuel efficiency standards are so critical – they will help us to green the vehicles we drive, reduce tailpipe pollution and make paying at the pump more affordable. The President has called to reduce our oil imports by a third by 2025 -- fuel efficiency standards of 54.5 mpg is a great place to start.

We applaud the agencies for your work to bring about landmark improvements in fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards. We urge you to take these comments into consideration and put forth the strongest possible final standard this summer, in order to see the maximum potential environmental benefits.