Clean Cars Would Cut Oil Use, Save Virginians Over $6 Million on Thanksgiving Travel

Media Releases

Environment Virginia

“Virginians should be able to travel over the river and through the woods to Thanksgiving dinner, without having to stop at the gas pump,” said Caroline Kory, State Associate for Environment Virginia.  “Cleaner and more fuel-efficient cars would cut pollution and keep enough in each Virginia 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 Virginia families.”

With roughly 443,000 families taking to the road to visit family and friends this Thanksgiving, Virginians are expected to spend roughly $14 million at the gas pump for their holiday travel.  Environment Virginia pointed to the inefficiency of our cars and trucks as one of the main reasons Virginians are forced to spend so much at the pump, and why cars consume more oil―and create more pollution―than is necessary.  

Environment Virginia was joined by Erin Hensley of Urban Grid, a Richmond-based renewable energy technology company, in releasing today’s report. “This year during the holiday season, insecurity about the job market and volatile fuel prices have made every penny more valuable for Virginians,” said Hensly. “When the need for a new vehicle arises – or when gas becomes unaffordable in a current vehicle – we are looking at practical, reliable and more affordable car options. Fuel economy and beyond gas technologies, such as electric cars, have become demands instead of just nice-to-haves.”

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 Virginians 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 Virginia 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:

 nearly 2 million fewer gallons of oil would be consumed in Virginia.

 Virginians would save roughly $6.6 million at the gas pump, or $15 per family.

 Virginians’ cars and light trucks would emit 18,660 fewer metric tons of global warming pollution.

While the Environment Virginia 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 Virginians nearly $1.4 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 roll-out 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 54.5 mpg 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 Virginia is part of a broad coalition of groups urging the Administration to keep these historic standards as strong as possible to ensure Virginians 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 Virginia’s environment, our economy, our health, and our national security ,” said Kory.  “We applaud President Obama’s leadership to bring Virginians the savings they deserve. Now we need the Obama administration to keep these standards strong in order to make these benefits a reality.”



Environment Virginia is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water and open space.