Clean Cars would Slash Oil Use and Pollution this Summer

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center

Washington D.C. – As Rhode Islanders get ready for summer road trips, an Environment Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island families travel to places like Block Island or any number of the state’s beautiful beaches, without creating as much of the pollution that threatens those very places” said Rosemary McDermott, intern at Environment Rhode Island. “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 standard.”

If the cars and trucks on the road today met the proposed 54.5 mpg standard, it would slash statewide oil dependence by 49,706,808 gallons and cut our global warming pollution by 438,324 metric tons this summer alone. Those savings mean we would burn less cash too, saving the average Rhode Island family $475 at the pump in a summer.

“Not only could you take that trip to the beach 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 McDermott. “The only solution that will relieve the pain we’re feeling at the pump is the one that will protect Rhode Island’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, emits 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 McDermott, 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 Rhode Island’s campaign “Get Off Oil” has been working to break state reliance on gasoline, as oil consumption transferred over $2 billion out of Rhode Island in the last year alone. Currently, the General Assembly is considering legislation drafted by the organization to put Rhode Island on track to cut its oil use in half by 2050.