For more details on the study, check out the Christian Science Monitor article here.
My name is Shannon Baker-Branstetter, and I am pleased to offer testimony on behalf of Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. Consumers Union supports the proposed Tier 3 standards because they are good for air quality, public health and car owners.
Consumer Reports conducts comprehensive tests of approximately 80 new vehicles every year, which we buy anonymously at retail. We provide consumers with objective comparative ratings about performance, fuel efficiency, comfort, handling, safety and reliability of these vehicles. We do not accept outside advertising. Consumer Reports has more than 8 million subscribers to our magazine, website, and other publications.
Reducing sulfur in gasoline and cutting tailpipe emissions will provide outstanding benefits to public health. Over 150 million Americans breathe unhealthy air, and a major source of this pollution is passenger and heavy-duty vehicles. On average, Americans spend over an hour traveling along roads every day. Living, working, or going to school near major roadways increases exposure to ozone and particle pollution that worsens lung and heart health and causes thousands of premature deaths every year.
In addition to the tremendous health benefits, car owners will also see significant improvements. Lowering the sulfur content in gasoline cleans up exhaust from older cars. It also reduces corrosion of emissions control systems for existing vehicles and increases the lifespan of catalytic converters, which can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to replace. The national average replacement cost of a catalytic converter is about $1,400.
New car buyers will also benefit. The proposed rule offers automakers an incentive to go beyond the minimum 8 year/80,000 mile warranty currently required for emissions control systems and extend it to 15 years/150,000 miles for new vehicles, which could improve reliability and lower costs to maintain emissions control systems. Low-sulfur gasoline also enables automakers to develop a greater array of technology, such as lean-burn, to meet emissions and fuel economy standards more creatively and at a lower cost.
The very modest cost of these clean car standards is well worth it. Addressing gasoline and vehicles together as a “system” further improves the cost-effectiveness of reducing emissions. According to your agency, when the standards are fully implemented by 2025, the standards will likely add less than $150/vehicle and 1 cent/gallon to gasoline costs. However, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. By 2030, the annual health benefits would be between $8 and $23 billion (double to 7 times the costs).
It would be “pennywise, tons foolish” to save a cent on gasoline, only to have to pay even more with our health as a result of additional tons of pollution. To put the cost in perspective, over the last four years, gasoline prices fluctuated over $2.25 DOLLARS/gallon, with weekly increases of ten cents happening with regularity.
EPA estimates the cost of cleaner gasoline will be about one cent per gallon. By comparison, failing to maintain proper tire pressure can waste the equivalent of 11 cents per gallon. By speeding or aggressive driving, a driver of a typical vehicle could bleed 20-40 cents per gallon. A roof rack? 60 cents/gallon. Meanwhile, fuel economy standards are poised to save consumers the equivalent of $1.30/gallon by 2025. The proposed clean car standards provide a great service at an outstanding value.
In summary, this common sense rule is good for our health and good for car owners. We urge you to finalize the rule so it can apply to 2017 models and be in sync with fuel economy standards.
Consumers Union Highlights Benefits and Savings from Cleaner Emissions at EPA Field Hearing
PHILADELPHIA – At an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) field hearing in Philadelphia on Wednesday, Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, will point to vehicle benefits and consumer cost savings in support of proposed standards for cleaner gasoline and lower-pollution vehicles nationwide.
Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union, will testify at the hearing on the Tier-3 standards that aim to improve air quality by curbing the sulfur content of gasoline and setting new tailpipe standards to limit smog emissions.
“Not only will these standards lead to tremendous health and environmental benefits, but they help automakers deliver more fuel-efficient vehicles to consumers,” said Baker-Branstetter.
The proposed standards would ultimately benefit both owners of existing cars as well as new cars. Low-sulfur gasoline would help clean up the exhaust of older vehicles and increase the lifespan of their emission systems. In new cars it would improve reliability and lower the costs of maintaining the emissions systems.
In addition, the standards would enable automakers to develop new, cost-effective technologies that could lead to higher fuel-efficiency. The proposed rules are estimated to only add less than 1 cent per gallon of gas. In comparison, by the time fuel economy rules are fully implemented in 2025 consumers could save an estimated $1.30 per gallon.
Baker-Branstetter said, “It would be ‘pennywise, but tons foolish’ to save a cent on gasoline, only to have to pay more for our health and overall fuel consumption as a result of additional tons of pollution.”
Consumers Union will also join supporters of the standards representing a wide variety of groups at a press conference prior to the field hearing. The groups include the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, the National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery; Appalachian Mountain Club, Moms Clean Air Force, and the Clean Air Council.
“The proposed emissions standards have garnered support from unlikely allies, including automakers, environmental groups and consumer organizations like Consumers Union for a reason,” said Baker-Branstetter. “This common-sense rule is good for car owners, and it’s good for our health. We urge the EPA to finalize the rule and implement it swiftly.”
Earlier this month, Consumers Union launched a petition in support of the Tier-3 standards. To read the Consumers Union’s testimony, click here. To learn more, visit www.OurGreenEnergyFuture.org.
Why Clean Car standards are needed: Over 150 million Americans breathe unhealthy air, and a major source of this pollution is passenger and heavy-duty vehicles.
What Clean Car standards do: The proposed standards would lower sulfur levels from 30 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm in gasoline and make emissions requirements more stringent for new vehicles starting in 2017. Cleaner burning cars and lower sulfur gasoline will emit lower tailpipe emissions, which will help us breathe easier and help regions throughout the country stay below unsafe air pollution levels for ozone and particulate matter. By addressing gasoline and vehicles as a “system” instead of in isolation, emissions reductions can be achieved more cost-effectively.
Costs and Benefits: The standards will likely add less than $150/vehicle in 2025 and 1 cent/gallon to gasoline costs. However, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. By 2030, the annual health benefits would be between $8 and $23 billion (double to 7 times the costs). Some of the benefits include preventing:
It would be “pennywise, tons foolish” to save a cent on gasoline, only to have to pay even more with our health as a result of additional pollution.
Benefits for vehicle owners:
Putting it in perspective: The oil industry is fighting this rule by claiming it will cost too much (the industry estimates a cost of 6-9 cents/gallon). The oil industry’s cost estimate is likely way too high, and EPA and independent analyses peg the likely cost at around one cent/gallon.
Consumers can help lower their fuel costs by changing their driving styles. One cent per gallon is nearly imperceptible compared to how much money is wasted on gasoline by speeding, aggressive driving, carrying unnecessary weight, or failing to maintain proper tire pressure. Check out the chart below to examine how much the average driver will save from new fuel economy standards.
For more information, contact Shannon Baker-Branstetter, Policy Counsel at Consumers Union at 202-462-6262.
Clean Car Standards (Tier 3) fact-sheet (PDF)
5 News Stories on Clean Cars
EPA Plan for Cleaner Emissions
Why does all this matter? It matters to your lungs and your wallet.
Over 150 million of us breathe unhealthy air, and a big chunk of this pollution comes from passenger vehicles. Cleaner, more fuel efficient cars will emit lower tailpipe emissions and help us breathe easier.
The benefits of cleaner tailpipes come at a steal for less than a penny a gallon and the health and fuel saving benefits outweigh the costs of cleaner and more efficient vehicle technology by more than 2 to 1. By lowering sulfur in gasoline and lowering tailpipe emissions, the standards will prevent between 820 and 2,400 premature deaths and 3,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits each year.
Lowering the sulfur content in gasoline reduces corrosion of emissions control systems, which is particularly helpful to cleaning up exhaust from older cars. In addition, low sulfur gasoline enables automakers a greater array of technology to meet emissions and fuel economy standards cost-effectively. The oil industry is lobbying against cleaner gasoline standards, but really, they should be happy to make their product safer for their customers and the public.
In addition to health costs, gasoline takes a big chunk out of our wallets. On average, Americans spend over $2,500 each year on gas. Because we enjoy buying gasoline? Not exactly. Most people still don’t have much choice to get where they need and want to go.
But in many places, that’s changing, and the amount of oil we need is declining. People drive much less when they live in communities that have safe and convenient alternatives to driving such as walking, biking and public transit. Alt-fuels, including electric vehicles and advanced biofuels, also have enormous potential to give Americans some choices when it comes to transportation fuel and help us be more resilient to fluctuating gas prices.
The good news is more efficient and alt-fuel vehicles are coming onto the market faster than ever before, with even faster progress on the horizon.. Thanks to new fuel economy standards, vehicles model year 2017-2025 will see even bigger leaps in fuel economy, delivering net savings of $6,000 per new vehicle by 2025.
For the PDF version, click here.]]>
EPA Releases Plan for Cleaner Emissions: Consumers Union Statement
WASHINGTON, DC – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a proposed rule requiring cleaner gasoline and lower-pollution vehicles nationwide. The new standards – referred to as the Tier-3 standards – aim to improve air quality by curbing the sulfur content of gasoline and setting new tailpipe standards to limit smog emissions.
Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, applauded the agency’s move as an important step forward in efforts to improve air quality and limit vehicle pollution.
Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said, “Vehicles have gotten cleaner over the years, but unfortunately too many Americans still struggle with health issues like asthma and respiratory problems that come from breathing in air heavy with smog and other pollutants. These standards are expected to be highly cost-effective in cleaning up gasoline and tailpipe emissions. These minimal costs will be largely outweighed by the savings that come from the huge health benefits we get from cleaner air. In addition, lower sulfur gasoline will allow automakers to choose from more efficient technologies that can improve both emissions and fuel economy at a lower cost. We are pleased to see cleaner gasoline and tailpipe rules moving forward and urge regulators to work efficiently to finalize and implement them.”
For the PDF version, click here.
WASHINGTON – Today, EPA released its annual report that tracks the fuel economy of vehicles sold in the United States, underscoring the major increases made in the efficiency of the vehicles Americans drive, reducing oil consumption and cutting carbon emissions. According to the report, EPA estimates that between 2007 and 2012 fuel economy values increased by 16 percent while carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have decreased by 13 percent, and in 2012 alone the report indicates a significant one year increase of 1.4 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars and trucks.
“Today’s report shows that we are making strides toward saving families money at the pump, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cleaning up the air we breathe,” said Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The historic steps taken by the Obama administration to improve fuel economy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil are accelerating this progress, will spur economic growth and will create high-quality domestic jobs in cutting edge industries across America.”
The expected 1.4 mpg improvement in 2012 is based on sales estimates provided to EPA by automakers. EPA’s projections show a reduction in CO2 emissions to 374 grams per mile and an increase in average fuel economy to 23.8 mpg. These numbers represent the largest annual improvements since EPA began reporting on fuel economy.
Fuel economy is expected to continue improving significantly under the Obama administration’s historic National Clean Car Program standards. The program cuts greenhouse gas emissions and would double fuel economy standards by 2025. The standards will save American families $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs, and by 2025 will result in an average fuel savings of more than $8,000 per vehicle. The program will also save 12 billion barrels of oil, and by 2025 will reduce oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day – as much as half of the oil imported from OPEC every day.
EPA’s annual “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2012” attributes the improvements to the rapid adoption of more efficient technologies, the increasing number of high fuel economy choices for consumers, and the fact that many automakers are already selling vehicles that can meet more stringent future fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards. The report indicates that the projected gains for 2012 more than make up for a slight dip in fuel economy in 2011.
Compared to five years ago, consumers have twice as many hybrid and diesel vehicle choices, a growing set of plug-in electric vehicle options, and a six-fold increase in the number of car models with combined city/highway fuel economy of 30 mpg or higher.
The new report can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/
Last year was the hottest year on record in the United States, and from the near-record low levels on the Mississippi River, to the terrible wildfires in the West, droughts that swept more than half the country have taken an enormous toll. Coastal erosion and destruction have worsened from Alaska to the East Coast, and every region will suffer ill effects from a warming climate. Scientists and economists predict the costs of new and more severe weather patterns will continue to rise. So, what can we do?
First, it’s helpful to understand where greenhouse gas emissions — which at current levels are accelerating climate change — come from. Here’s a breakdown of ghg emissions in the U.S. by source.
Second, there are simple steps we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint. Many of them save money and are better for our health — walking or choosing local activities instead of driving, cutting energy waste around the house, or reusing items around the house instead of buying new ones. Other steps such as installing solar panels or buying a more efficient vehicle can cost money upfront, but are often good investments that save money over the long haul.
And finally, we can call on our government and private industry to reduce carbon emissions and invest in cleaner, more efficient technologies. Most major companies now have carbon reduction targets, and fuel economy standards finalized last year will help curb emissions from vehicles.
But power plants in the electric sector constitute 40 percent of emissions and will have to reduce those to put us on a path that limits the worst climate change damage. The Environmental Protection Agency has the opportunity to complete new emission limits from power plants during the coming year, and we will keep you up to date on this effort.
The good news is that there are very cost-effective ways to address climate change both through public policy and private initiative. While there may be costs to address climate change, the costs of inaction are likely to be much higher.
“This report gives further evidence that the ones really benefitting from gas sales are the oil companies. Very little of what consumers spend at the pump goes back to their local gas station or community, and even those who have invested in oil companies will see less than a penny return on the thousands of dollars they’re spending on gasoline,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union. “On the other hand, consumers who purchase fuel efficient vehicles could directly save thousands of dollars over the life of their vehicle and put the savings back into the local economy.”
The UCS report took an in-depth look at where the money consumers paid at the pump actually went. On average, $33 of $50 spent by a consumer will go directly to oil companies. Furthermore, your local gas station owner sees just 81 cents of an average $50 fill-up.
An April 2012 survey by Consumer Reports found that fuel economy was the most important consideration to consumers when shopping for their next car. It also found strong support for the increased fuel-efficiency standards, where almost 80 percent of consumers agreed or strongly agreed that “fuel economy standards should require auto manufacturers to increase the overall fleet average to at least 55 miles per gallon.”
Baker-Branstetter said, “There’s no question that fuel economy and gas prices are on consumers’ minds when they go to purchase a vehicle. This report illustrates an important fact – the best return on investment that consumers can see at the pump is through more fuel efficient vehicles.”
To read the full report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, visit www.ucsusa.org.
Today, a group of business organizations representing over 150,000 businesses across the country announced their support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finalized national standard for fine particle pollution. The statement, signed by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and Ceres, reads as follows:
“On behalf of American business leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors who believe in the Clean Air Act’s ability to spur innovation and promote market certainty, today we commend the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for issuing stronger national air quality standards for fine particle pollution. We represent a diverse set of business interests ranging in size from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses that support timely implementation of EPA’s clean air rules, and strongly believe EPA’s revised fine particle standards will lead to a healthier and more productive American workforce. Reductions in fine particle pollution will result in decreased mortality rates and fewer incidents of heart attacks, strokes, and asthma, consequently avoiding lost work days and pollution related health care costs for businesses across the economy. The revised standards reflect EPA’s understanding that American businesses cannot afford the rising health care costs and lost work days imposed by air pollution.”
Contact: Richard Eidlin, American Sustainable Business Council, 303.478.0131, firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) is a growing coalition of business networks and businesses committed to advancing a new vision, framework and policies that support a vibrant, equitable and sustainable economy. The Council brings together the business perspective, experience and political will and strength to stimulate our economy, benefit our communities, and preserve our environment. Today, the organizations that have joined in this partnership represent over 150,000 businesses and more than 200,000 entrepreneurs, owners, executives, investors and business professionals. www.asbcouncil.org
Ceres is a national coalition of major investors, businesses and public interest organizations working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as climate change and water scarcity. www.ceres.org
Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is the independent business voice for the environment. E2 is a national community of individual business leaders who advocate for good environmental policy while building economic prosperity. E2 takes a reasoned, economically sound approach to environmental issues by relying on fact-based policy expertise. As the independent business voice in the debate, E2 is effective and delivers results at both the state and national levels through its bipartisan efforts. www.e2.org]]>