Clean Cars Would Cut Oil Use, Save Floridians $15 Million on Thanksgiving Travel

Environment Florida

As Floridians prepare for one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, and just days after the Obama administration proposed new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, a new Environment Florida report finds that more fuel efficient cars would make significant cuts in oil use and save Floridians roughly $15 million at the gas pump this Thanksgiving alone. The report was released following the Obama administration’s Wednesday announcement of proposed new fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks sold from 2017 through 2025. 

“On Thanksgiving, Floridians should be able to travel over the river and through the woods to Thanksgiving dinner, without having to stop at the gas pump,” said Paul Rolfe, federal field organizer for Environment Florida.  “Cleaner and more fuel-efficient cars would cut pollution and keep enough money in each Florida family’s wallet this Thanksgiving to bring a few extra pumpkin pies to dinner!  The new clean car standards just proposed by the Obama administration offer an excellent opportunity to bring these types of benefits to Florida families.”

With roughly one million families taking to the road to visit family and friends this Thanksgiving, Floridians are expected to spend roughly $33 million at the gas pump for their holiday travel.  Environment Florida pointed to the inefficiency of our cars and trucks as one of the main reasons Floridians are forced to spend so much at the pump, and why cars consume more oil—and create more pollution—than is necessary. 

Environment Florida released today’s report at the Florida Tesla dealership in Dania Beach. Rolfe said, “We can see from the clean car technologies sold here, making our cars go farther on a gallon of gas is one of the best ways to help Florida’s economy and our environment at the same time.”

The new report, “Gobbling Less Gas for Thanksgiving: How Clean Car Standards Will Cut Oil Use and Save Americans Money,” used regional Thanksgiving travel projections released last week by AAA to determine how many Floridians would be traveling more than 50 miles by car this Thanksgiving.  The report then estimated how much less oil would be used—and how much money would be saved at the gas pump—if the average car taking those trips in Florida this Thanksgiving met a standard equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon—what the Obama administration is proposing new cars and light trucks meet by 2025—instead of the current 26.4 miles per gallon.

The report estimated the following benefits would be realized over the Thanksgiving holiday if the average car met a standard equivalent to 54.5 mpg:

  • 4.5 million fewer gallons of oil would be consumed in Florida.
  • Floridians would save roughly $15 million at the gas pump, or $15 per family.
  • Floridians’ cars and light trucks would emit 43,840 fewer metric tons of global warming pollution.

While the Environment Florida 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 Floridians $4.2 billion at the gas pump in 2030.

Multiple studies have shown that the technology exists today to make our cars and trucks much cleaner and more fuel-efficient.  Conventional cars and trucks can be made with more efficient engines and more lightweight materials, while hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles can go dramatically farther on a gallon of gas. With the high demand following the rollout of the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf this year, Americans are signaling their desire for more fuel-efficient cars, and strong clean car standards will accelerate those to the marketplace.  

Realizing that we can and need to go even further, the Obama administration last week proposed new fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2017-2025, that would require new cars and light trucks meet the equivalent of a 54.5mpg standard by 2025.  The proposed standard has the support of 13 major automakers, as well as the United Auto Workers and numerous environmental and consumer groups.

The Obama administration will be conducting a public comment period to gauge public support for the proposed standards, and a final standard is expected next summer.  Environment Florida is part of a broad coalition of groups urging the Administration to keep these historic standards as strong as possible to ensure Floridians see the full benefits of the standard.

“This Thanksgiving, we should give thanks that strong fuel efficiency and pollution standards will reap huge benefits for Florida’s environment, our economy, our health, and our national security,” said Rolfe.  “We applaud President Obama’s leadership to bring Floridians the savings they deserve. Now we need the Obama administration to keep these standards strong in order to make these benefits a reality.”