Hey everyone. Jim Kliesch here. I’m the new guy in UCS’ Clean Vehicles team, and as such, ScottN asked me to drop a line and introduce myself. Not wanting to further disappoint the man after his beloved Mets’ season-ending meltdown, I thought I’d oblige.
I’ve been in the green vehicle community for a while now, having spent the last eight years with the fine folks at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Anyway, I’ll be popping my head into the blogosphere here every now and then to say hi and share some perspectives. Speaking of which… The EPA recently released their annual fuel economy trends report, a great annual resource for tracking fuel economy and other vehicle characteristics. This year saw some interesting changes: an up-tick in light truck (that would be SUVs, minivans, pickups) fuel economy for the last couple years has caused the overall average vehicle fuel economy to buck the steady decline it’s seen from 1987 to 2004.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that overall, we’re still no better today than we were in 1986, more than twenty years ago—which is why Congress needs to send a meaningful bill to the president demanding a fleet average of 35 mpg by 2020. It’s really that simple.
But don't just take our word for how simple it is. A story in the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial page is none too friendly to strong fuel economy standards, makes the point for us. In the "Eyes on the Road" column, Joseph White has this to say:
The average fuel efficiency of light trucks has increased by one mile per gallon since 2004, a shift that coincides with higher gas prices, a turn away from heavy, truck-frame sport utility vehicles, and -- sorry, auto industry friends -- an increase in the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard to 22.2 mpg in 2007 from 20.7 mpg in 2004.
Why sympathy for the car industry folks? Because they don't want Congress to get the idea that raising the CAFE mileage standards is the only way to get them to produce more efficient vehicles. Unfortunately for them, this report strongly implies that's the case.
Gas prices have doubled in the past five years, and yet consumers are still struggling to find high-mpg alternatives on showroom floors, especially in minivans, pickups, SUVs, and large sedans. That up-tick in truck mpg I mentioned is largely a result of CAFE regulations. With hard proof that CAFE works, and a demonstrated history that the industry won’t boost mpg without the encouragement of the government, it’s high time Congress send an energy bill with “35 by 2020” to the president.
Posted by: Jim