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New Energy Standards Could Light Up Minnesota Economy

December 20, 2007

Minneapolis, MN - It's being called landmark legislation. Automakers are now required to make more fuel-efficient cars as part of a broad energy bill designed to lower oil imports and reduce greenhouse gases. Christopher Cox with the National Environmental Trust in Minnesota says it will brighten the state's economy.

"The biggest impact is going to be on the consumer's budget. We're talking, here in Minnesota, about saving on the order of $474 million a year."

Cox explains the savings will come from falling fuel prices, developing renewable energy sources and turning to more efficient lighting and appliances. Analysts say, while the higher mileage standards will raise vehicle prices by about $1,500, drivers will save three times that over the vehicle's life.

Cox believes the bill moves the nation towards energy self-sufficiency and helps clear the air.

"This will have a huge impact on global warming, simply by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. Less oil equals less carbon dioxide. Plus, with these standards, we will be developing renewable fuels sooner."

Cox says that will jump-start the state's agricultural economy, because it encourages the development of alternative farm products for energy and will have a positive impact on Minnesota's economy.

"First of all, it will bring approximately 3,200 jobs to the state as a result of various provisions in this bill. And, within the auto sector itself, there is the chance that Ford and others will slow down the rate at which they're closing plants and they'll actually start creating more jobs, because we're looking at something consumers have been calling for a long time, which is more fuel-efficient vehicles."

Cox is hopeful Ford will reconsider shutting down its St. Paul plant, now that its production needs have changed.

The new law requires automakers to meet a 35 miles-per-gallon overall fleet average by 2020. The current standard is about 27.

Jim Wishner/John Robinson, Public News Service - MN