Hi folks, I'm just back from my vacation and cleaning out my email. Every so often, we get a spate of messages from advocates of a particular advanced technology, clean diesel, plugin hybrids, water-powered compacts, etc. chiding us for not actively pressing for the development of that particular drivetrain. I thought it might be beneficial to give our answer here in a more public format so anyone who might be pondering this question can see where we are coming from.
While cleaner diesel engines are coming to the U.S. market, and the major automakers are showing off more and more promising plugin hybrid concept models, most recently at the Frankfurt auto show, pushing one technology is not what UCS is about. We have always believed, and continue to believe, that it will take a mixture of both existing and advanced clean vehicle technologies, and fuels, to help us significantly reduce U.S. oil dependence and global warming pollution from the transportation sector.
This is why we developed the UCS Guardian more efficient SUV blueprint to show how today’s conventional technologies could substantially increase fuel economy without changing vehicle performance, size, or safety. It is why we developed the UCS Vanguard line of vehicles to show that the proper mix of today’s technologies and fuels can lead to significant reductions in emissions from autos without substantially increasing their price. And we developed the HybridCenter to ensure that this burgeoning new market would be focused on applying this technology to make today’s vehicles their most efficient, not their most powerful.
In each of these cases, and many more, our work revolves around showing that the market can be cleaner in a wide variety of ways. But we believe that the market can only truly become cleaner if policies are in place that push the entire market, not just one segment of it, in a cleaner direction. This is why our policy work revolves around the setting of standards, as opposed to supporting one technology to the exclusion of others. Let me give you a few examples of what I’m talking about:
- Our recent historic success on the Senate Energy Bill was about breaking through three decades of stagnation and pushing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 35mpg by 2020. Fuel economy standards allow the flexibility of the automakers to mix and match vehicles and technologies, but push their full line in a cleaner direction.
- Our work to pass the advanced vehicle tax credit revolved around ensuring that qualifying vehicles would not get a flat credit for qualifying, but would be weighted on their efficiency, and would provide a smog-forming pollution backstop to make sure that there was not a tradeoff between efficiency and smog-forming pollution.
- Another recent Energy Bill endeavor was to push Congress to include a standard on their Renewable Fuel Standard that would ensure that those kind of fuels considered “advanced biofuels” would, no matter what their source, be certified to reduce carbon emissions over traditional petroleum. Indeed, while we see biofuels as a potential part of an overall transportation solution, UCS has created a set of bioenergy principles to guide our work toward ensuring that biofuels do not become yet another “silver bullet” for the transportation market, but a legitimate effort to balance the competing demands for bio-based materials with our needs to reduce oil use and carbon emissions from the transportation market.
- Finally, even our more “specific” work, such as our latest Earth Day Challenge pushing Toyota to bring a fuel-efficient hybrid minivan to the U.S. market was not about one technology, or even one vehicle, really. It was pushing against a hybrid market that has recently tilted disturbingly toward increasing miles per hour over miles per gallon. While not a government-enacted standard, that work still flows from a market standard we have worked to instill in communications with the public, the automakers, and decision makers as well.
Of course, these are only a few examples that don’t take into account our work on major initiatives like the development and expansion of California’s clean car standards around the country and the new California Clean Car Discount initiative. So while we wish those who look to push new and exciting advanced vehicles technologies into the market the best of fortune, you will find UCS advocating for those as part of a larger solution set. We all have our particular role to play in a cleaner transportation solution – advocating for strong standards, and showing all of the practical, cost effective, and cleaner ways to get there is ours.
Posted by: ScottN