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Understanding the Issues

"The simplest, most cost-effective way to reduce the United States' consumption of oil is to increase the fuel economy of motor vehicles. Improving the fuel economy of passenger vehicles to an average of 40 mpg would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, cut global warming emissions and save consumers thousands of dollars annually at the gas pump. Detroit has the technology to accomplish this while maintaining the power, safety, and performance that consumers demand."
-- Union of Concerned Scientists

The technology already exists to achieve 40 mpg and beyond.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS): "Using continuously evolving conventional technologies, automakers could produce a fleet of cars and light trucks that achieve over 40 miles per gallon of gasoline. Using hybrid technologies, the fuel economy level could be raised to 55 miles per gallon. And with fuel cell technology, we could possibly reach near 80 miles per gallon. This vehicle fleet would look much like that of today while maintaining, if not improving, performance and safety standards." According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): "The 40-mpg standard would eliminate 1 billion tons of global warming pollution annually while saving consumers $3,000 to $5,000 over the life of a vehicle."

Gas pump savings for consumers will exceed extra costs of fuel-efficient vehicles.

UCS reports: "A fleet of cars and light trucks that reaches 40 mpg will cost consumers only about $1,000 to $2,000 extra per vehicle. However, the $2,500 to $5,300 saved on fuel over the life of the vehicle will more than compensate consumers. Overall, a 40 mpg fleet means American consumers could see annual gasoline savings of $50 billion in 2015. Reaching 55 mpg by 2025 means consumers could be saving$138 billion in that year."

More fuel-efficient cars could significantly reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

NRDC reports: "America’s swelling thirst for oil is one of our leading economic and national security problems. We use a quarter of the world’s petroleum, but have just 3 percent of known reserves. As a result, we’re importing more than half the oil we use each day from some of the most unstable regions of the world—spending more than $20 billion each year on Persian Gulf oil alone. Fortunately, there is a cure for our oil addiction. Simple, cost-effective technologies exist today to improve fuel economy in cars and light trucks of all sizes. With the right set of policies to foster oil-saving solutions, we could cut expected 2020 oil use for personal vehicles in half while continuing to offer American drivers the best and safest choice of vehicles in the world."

The fuel efficiency of our national vehicle fleet is getting worse – not better.

UCS reports: "The fuel economy of the average new passenger vehicle peaked in 1988 and is now less than it was 10 years ago. The stagnation of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards since 1985, doubling of annual vehicle miles driven in the last 25 years and the recent explosion of SUV and light truck sales have eaten away at the nation's fuel efficiency. To reverse these trends and provide benefits to consumers and the environment, fuel economy standards need to be increased to over 40 mpg by 2015 and 55 mpg by 2025."

More fuel-efficient cars = a cleaner environment.

UCS reports: "More fuel-efficient cars and trucks help the environment by reducing both global warming emissions and air pollution. For every gallon of gasoline that is consumed, approximately 24 pounds of global warming pollutants are released into the air. Drilling, refining, and distributing gasoline account for about 5 pounds per gallon of gasoline, and burning gasoline to drive down the road produces another 19 pounds per gallon. Increasing fuel economy standards to 40 mpg in the next decade can cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by 106 million tons in 2015; reaching 55 mpg by 2025 can lead to a cut in annual greenhouse gas emissions of over 275 million tons in that year alone."

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