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Pain at the Pump? New Fuel Standards Could Ease the Burden



March 22, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Soaring gas prices are hitting drivers in Ohio and across the country, and little relief appears to be in sight. The long-term solution to pain at the pump can come through higher fuel standards for cars and trucks, says Zoe Lipman, senior manager for transportation solutions with the National Wildlife Federation. For example, the Obama administration's new fuel economy standards will require automakers to achieve a fleet fuel economy average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Congress passed a mandated fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

Besides saving drivers money, the standards will be a boost for manufacturing in Ohio, which is a national leader in building fuel-efficient technology, Lipman says.

"In addition to being the biggest single step we've taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil or to cut the carbon pollution that causes climate change, these standards are bringing innovation, investment, manufacturing and thousands of good jobs back to states like Ohio."

Once fully implemented, the latest standards are expected to double fuel economy from today's levels and save Americans over $44 billion annually at the gas pump, she says.

Critics are concerned that the standards could hurt consumers by adding thousands of dollars to the price of new cars. Supporters point out that fuel savings resulting from the standards will far outweigh the costs of more advanced technology - the kinds manufactured in Ohio.

By 2025, the standards are projected to give families more than $8,000 in fuel savings over the lifetime of a new vehicle, compared to current standards. Lipman says that means better savings and more options for all kinds of drivers.

"Some of the new pickup trucks, for example, that are on the market today, not only bring you a more powerful vehicle than the old truck you might trade in, but can be up to 25 percent more fuel-efficient."

Taken together, both sets of standards would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by more than what the nation currently imports from the Persian Gulf, Venezuela and Russia, Lipman says. In the end, it's the consumers who will really benefit, she adds.

"This latest round of standards will save consumers half a trillion dollars. Instead of sending all that money overseas to buy oil, that's half a trillion dollars families will spend at home, building jobs."

The standards are due to be finalized this summer.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH