New Obama Clean Cars Standards would Slash Pollution and Pain at the Pump

Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center

Denver – As Coloradans get ready for summer road trips, an Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center report finds that cleaner, more fuel efficient cars would significantly slash oil consumption and global warming pollution across the state. The report, Summer on the Road: Going Farther on a Gallon of Gas, was released as the Obama administration is on the verge of finalizing fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks that achieve a 54.5 mpg standard by 2025.

“Clean cars can help Coloradans get out to our mountains and beautiful rivers this summer, without creating as much of the pollution that threatens those very places,” aid Bessie Schwarz, Field Organizer at Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center. “As hot as this summer is shaping up to be, the last thing we need is more oil burning in our cars and more global warming pollution heating up our atmosphere. But in some of the cars and trucks out there today, a gallon of gas disappears more quickly than a snowball in July. Let’s beat the heat by getting cleaner cars on the road with the Obama administration’s proposed clean car standard.”

If the cars and trucks on the road today met the proposed 54.5 mpg standard, it would slash statewide oil dependence by over 2.5 millions gallons and cut our global warming pollution by 2,218,195 metric tons this summer alone. That’s almost equivalent of taking two coal plants offline for the whole summer. Those savings mean we would burn less cash too, saving the average Colorado family almost $ 500 at the pump in a summer.

“As I travel to Rocky Mountain National Park this summer to go hiking and camping, I don’t want to worry about how much gasoline I’m burning and how much I’m paying for it,” said local resident Jennifer Kehler, as she fills up her hybrid at a Denver gas station. “My hybrid solves that problem—there should really be more cars and trucks on the road that can go farther on a gallon.”

“Not only could you take that trip out the Colorado River or get out to bag another fourteen this summer, while burning much less oil along the way, but you could book the family a hotel for a couple of extra days with the money you’re saving,” added Schwarz “The only solution that will relieve the pain we’re feeling at the pump is the one that will protect Colorado’s environment and health too. Our oil dependence doesn’t just cost us at the pump—it threatens our shores with spills like the disaster in the Gulf, spews toxic pollution into our air, and contributes more to global warming than any other fuel. We applaud the Obama administration for its work to make these benefits a reality.” 

“As ozone season peaks between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the lung health of Coloradans is put at risk on days with high levels of air pollution,” said Natalia Swalnick of the Denver Metro Clean Cities and the Colorado chapter of the American Lung Association.  “Drivers may wish to consider fuel-efficient vehicles, automobiles that run on cleaner-burning alternative fuels, and changing their driving habits to have less impact on our region’s air quality”.

Rising interest in more fuel-efficient cars is also driving the car market in Colorado forward, as local hybrid and electric cars dealers attest. “Nissan’s own advancements in battery technology are key to the Leaf, future Hybrid innovation and cost-effective advancement,” said Kevin Roddy of Go Nissan in Westminster.

“All the better, drivers do not have to wait until 2025 to reap the benefits of cleaner cars,” noted Schwarz, citing the Natural Resources Defense Council’s related report, Relieving Pain at the Pump. “Thanks to the Obama administration’s first phase of standards that took effect this year, a bumper crop of fuel efficient cars have already started coming to the showroom floor.” The number of models getting more than 30 mpg has tripled since the first phase of standards for years 2012 through 2016 were announced.

President Obama proposed the new 54.5 mpg standard this past fall. The proposal 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, which previously adopted state-level standards.

Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center is a state-wide environmental organization, working to protect clean air, clean water and open space.