Philadelphia, PA—More than one hundred citizens, including doctors, experts, religious leaders, elected officials, and small business owners turned out to voice their support for cleaner cars at a federal public hearing in Philadelphia today. The hearing, one of three being held nationally, was hosted by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation to gauge public opinion on new clean car standards being proposed for new vehicles sold from 2017-2025.
“Americans are ready to put the pedal to the metal to get cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars and trucks on the road,” said Jillian Hertzberg, Federal Clean Vehicles Associate with PennEnvironment. “Thanks to the historic leadership of the Obama administration, new clean car standards will help move our country away from oil, cut dangerous carbon pollution that fuels global warming, and save Pennsylvanians money at the gas pump.”
In November, the Obama administration proposed fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for new cars and light trucks in model years 2017-2025, which would ensure that new cars and trucks meet the equivalent of a 54.5 miles-per-gallon fleet-wide average by 2025—making this the biggest step this country has ever taken to get off oil and tackle global warming.
The proposed standards have received the support of 13 major automakers and the United Auto Workers, as well as numerous environmental and consumer groups. “I strongly support the President’s leadership in working with labor, business and environmental activists to move toward an end to our dangerous oil dependence,” said Congressman Bob Brady. “The time to act is now. And, this is the largest major move we have ever taken to deal with global warming, while reducing our addiction to oil and saving money at the gas pump."
“Improving the fuel efficiency of our cars and vehicles is simply common sense,” said U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who wrote to President Obama commending him for implementing these new standards. “It helps both our state’s economy and the environment, while decreasing our dependence on oil produced by unstable, politically volatile countries.”
PennEnvironment was joined by state Rep. Tony Payton, Dr. David Ross of Bryn Mawr College, Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car Diner in Philadelphia, Dr. Walter Tsou of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Joe Minott of Clean Air Council, and Sierra Club President Robin Mann in an event held at today’s hearing.
“Technology has made meeting the CAFÉ Standards a worthy and attainable goal and we should move aggressively to meet that target,” said Pennsylvania Representative Tony Payton.
“President Obama’s proposal to double the efficiency of America’s cars and light trucks is the biggest single step we’ve ever taken to break our dangerous addiction to oil and tackle climate disruption,” said Robin Mann, Sierra Club President. “Thanks to these standards, Pennsylvania families will see more jobs, get much-needed relief at the gas pump, and breathe cleaner air.”
“The real game changer in transportation is better fuel mileage,” said Dr. Walter Tsou, with Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Getting over 50 MPG would dramatically lessen our dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gases, and help the public's health.”
“In our current political climate, the proposed CAFE and GHG standards is the single most effective policy option on the table for addressing our overdependence on fossil fuels,” said Dr. David Ross, chair of the Department of Economics at Bryn Mawr College.
The standards will save the average Pennsylvania family $200 at the gas pump in 2030, according to an analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The analysis also found that the new proposed standards for cars and light trucks in model years 2017-2025 would in 2030 save Pennsylvanians $991 million annually at the pump, cut oil use in the state by 701 million gallons, and reduce global warming pollution by 8.29 million metric tons.
“Right now, bolstering fuel efficiency standards is a policy lawmakers should enact immediately for the sake of small businesses and our floundering economy,” said Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car Diner in Philadelphia.
“Not only will the regulations improve public health and the environment , it will also provide a much needed boost to Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Joe Minott, executive director of Clean Air Council.
“There are 1,600 medallion taxicabs in the City of Philadelphia, at least 98% of which are traditional, gas-guzzling vehicles like Ford Crown Victorias," said Jeff Hornstein, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Taxi Association. "At 10-15mpg, cars like these hurt drivers, who pay for the gas, and they hurt Philadelphia’s environment, contributing to Philly’s inclusion on the Asthma Foundation’s ‘Ten Worst’ list. President Obama's clean cars standards will go a long way toward more rapid adoption of fuel efficient cars for Philadelphia's taxi fleet."
PennEnvironment and the other groups at today’s event also called on the Obama administration to avoid including loopholes in the final standard that would undermine the potential consumer savings and pollution reductions. In addition to today’s public hearing in Philadelphia, the Administration is accepting comments from the public through February 13. The standards are expected to be finalized by the end of the summer.