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Study: Higher Mileage Standards Would Accelerate Minnesota Economy

November 20, 2007

Minneapolis, MN – The Minnesota economy could shift into high gear with the advent of better fuel efficiency standards for American cars. A study by the group Environment America examined the consequences of a new energy bill in Congress that would require automakers to raise their fleet averages to 35 miles per gallon. Monique Sullivan, Minnesota field organizer for the group, sums up the possibilities for Minnesota.

"Our report shows that Minnesotans would be saving $512 million at the pump in 2020 if the standard becomes law."

She explains the increase, from the current standard of 27 miles per gallon, also would reduce oil consumption and dependence on imported fuel, and help the environment by reducing tailpipe emissions. She notes it's been 30 years since fuel standards were last raised.

Automakers claim requiring higher average mileage from their vehicles isn't practical, that it would raise production costs and cut jobs in an already sluggish industry. But Sullivan argues higher efficiency standards would reduce oil consumption by more than 23,000 barrels of oil a day.

"The auto industry is running ads making claims that 35 miles per gallon in 2020 can't be achieved. This is simply untrue. The technology is available. In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that automakers could use existing technology to increase the fuel economy of their fleets to 37 miles per gallon over the next decade, while improving safety and maintaining performance."

Sullivan sees the automakers' complaints differently. She believes concerns about the environment and rising gas prices have made fuel efficiency a major factor for many car buyers, and that higher mileage ratings for U.S.-made vehicles would help them compete with the more fuel-efficient imports, which could lead to increased production and jobs. The higher standard is included in the new Senate energy bill, but not the House version.

More information is available online at www.environmentamerica.org.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN