Clean Cars Would Slash Oil Use and Pollution this Summer

Environment Minnesota Research & Policy Center

St. Paul, MN – As Minnesotans get ready for summer road trips, an Environment Minnesota 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 Minnesota families travel to beautiful places like the Boundary Waters this summer, without creating as much of the pollution that threatens those very places,” said Ken Bradley, Program Director at Environment Minnesota.  “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 329,779,838 gallons and cut our global warming pollution by 2,908,059 metric tons this summer alone. That’s the equivalent of taking more than 2.5 coal plants offline for the whole summer. Those savings mean we would burn less cash, too, saving the average Minnesota family $582.70 at the pump in a summer.

“Not only could you take that trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area 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 Bradley. “The only solution that will relieve the pain we’re feeling at the pump is the one that will protect Minnesota’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 simply need to get off oil, and a strong, 54.5 mpg clean car standard would be the single biggest step we’ve ever taken. We applaud the Obama administration for its work to make these benefits a reality.”  

“All the better, drivers do not have to wait until 2025 to reap the benefits of cleaner cars,” noted Bradley, 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 has 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 was 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, led by California, which previously adopted state-level standards.

Today we were joined by Jukka Kukkonen, the Founder of PlugInConnect; Fran Crotty, Alerternate Fuels and Renewable Energy, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; and Ken Bradley, Program Director of Environment Minnesota in releasing the report.

 “Automotive drive train technologies have developed a lot in recent years and the 54.5 mpg standard can be reached even with the technologies we have available today.  More efficient vehicles will not just reduce the emissions and our dependency on foreign oil, but also keep more money in our local economy and improve US competitiveness in the global economy,” said Jukka Kukkonen of PlugInConnect.

“The only solution that will relieve the pain we’re feeling at the pump is the one that will protect Minnesota’s environment and health too. Our oil dependence doesn’t just cost us at the pump—it threatens our shores with oil spills like the disaster in the Gulf, spews toxic pollution into our air, and contributes more to global warming than any other fuel we use. We simply need to get off oil, and a strong, 54.5 mpg clean car standard would be the single biggest step we’ve ever taken. We applaud the Obama administration for its work to finalize these standards and we look forward to working with them to make these benefits a reality in summers to come,” said Ken Bradley, Environment Minnesota Program Director.

Click here to download the full report, “Summer on the Road: Going Farther on a Gallon of Gas.”

Environment Minnesota Research & Policy Center is committed to clean air, clean water, and open space.

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