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Press Release of Senator Cantwell
Applying Real-World Gas Mileage to Fuel Economy Standards Would Cut Oil Imports by 20 Percent
Cantwell again pushes for accurate gas mileage reporting to improve fuel economy in light of new study
Thursday, July 13,2006
WASHINGTON, DC – A new report released Thursday by the Environmental Working Group shows that the U.S. can reduce oil imports by 20 percent by simply applying real-world gas mileage to current fuel economy standards. Current gas mileage estimates for cars and trucks are based on outdated formulas that U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has long tried to correct.
“This report is more proof that by simply letting drivers know the actual gas mileage of their cars and trucks and applying this real-world standard to our nation’s current fuel efficiency requirements, we can take a big step toward energy independence,” said Cantwell. “It’s ridiculous that we still rely on an inaccurate, 30-year-old fuel economy test that consistently overestimates the mileage American drivers get in real-world driving conditions. I’ve already put forward bipartisan legislation Congress could pass today to fix this problem and reduce our dependence on foreign oil at the same time.”
In June, Cantwell joined a bipartisan Senate coalition in introducing legislation to improve the fuel efficiency of America’s vehicles for the first time in 20 years. The “Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act” also includes legislation originally introduced by Cantwell in April 2005 that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide more accurate fuel economy estimates for the window stickers on new vehicles. Current window labels overestimate real-world fuel economy by 20 to 50 percent. For example, mileage estimates shown on window stickers still assume Americans drive an average of 48 miles per hour on the highway, never drive over hills, and don’t use air conditioners.
The Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act would also harmonize the fuel economy tests used for window stickers and automakers’ compliance with corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. Current CAFE compliance tests are based on a similarly outdated formula. If more accurate gas mileage estimates were used, fuel economy would improve, thereby reducing oil consumption. To learn more about the new study, visit the Environmental Working Group website at http://www.ewg.org/reports/realMPG/.
Cantwell’s Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act, in addition to improving gas mileage estimates, would increase the combined average fuel economy for all passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2017. Currently, passenger cars and light trucks must meet standards of 27.5 and 22.2 miles per gallon respectively. Cantwell’s proposal would also for the first time apply CAFE standards to passenger vehicles weighing between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds—such as Hummers and Large SUVs—improve safety standards in the event of a crash between different sized vehicles, and establish a credit trading program allowing auto manufacturers that cannot economically reach required fuel economy levels to buy credits from automakers that exceeded compliance requirements. The legislation would also require new vehicles to come equipped with features allowing drivers to put their cars in a more efficient driving mode, an onboard display showing real-time fuel consumption, and a warning for tire pressure levels affecting fuel economy.
Cantwell has been a consistent advocate of measures to reduce oil imports, promote greater use of domestically produced biofuels, increase the availability of flex fuel vehicles, and improve vehicle fuel economy standards. In 2005, Cantwell worked with Senate leaders to include her proposal to improve the accuracy of EPA gas mileage tests in the Surface Transportation Safety Improvement Act. The proposal passed the full Senate, but was later removed from the bill by House members of a conference committee called to work out differences between House and Senate versions of the legislation. Cantwell also sponsored amendments to energy bills in 2003 and 2005 that would have raised CAFE standards, and sponsored the Automobile Fuel Efficiency Improvements Act in 2003, which would have increased CAFE