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For Immediate Release, July 1, 2008

Contact: Brian Nowicki, Center for Biological Diversity, (916) 201-6938 (cell)
Kassie Siegel, Center for Biological Diversity, (760) 366-2232 x 302

Conservation Group Blasts Proposed National Gas-mileage Standards  
Bush Administration Cooks the Numbers to
Allow Automakers to Keep Polluting

WASHINGTON— In comments filed today, the Center for Biological Diversity criticized the Bush administration’s proposed automobile fuel-economy standards as inadequate to address global warming and gasoline consumption. The proposed fuel economy standards would increase average fleet-wide fuel efficiency to only approximately 31.6 mpg (miles per gallon) by 2015, compared to 35 mpg to 45 mpg already achieved by many vehicle models on the market today, despite a legal mandate to set gas-mileage standards at the “maximum feasible” level.

The Bush administration kept proposed gas-mileage standards low through a number of bizarre assumptions, including asserting that gas will cost $2.36 per gallon in 2020 and $2.51 in 2030. The use of today’s gas prices would have dramatically changed the proposed standard. According to the administration’s own analysis, increasing gas prices by $0.88 per gallon in 2016 would have increased the gas-mileage standard by nearly seven mpg for passenger cars.

“The reality is that we can and must dramatically increase fuel economy to combat both global warming and high fuel costs,” said Brian Nowicki of the Center for Biological Diversity. “With this proposal the administration continues to ignore the reality facing American drivers and the legal requirement to set gas mileage standards at the maximum feasible level.”

Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Center for Biological Diversity v. National Highway Traffic Administration, ruled the Bush administration violated the law by failing to properly consider greenhouse gas emissions and global warming when setting gas-mileage standards. The currently proposed standards must also comply with a 2007 law that requires an average industry fuel efficiency of at least 35 mpg by 2020.

“The Bush administration proposes that we aspire to gas-mileage standards in 2015 that are lower than what we can achieve today,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Americans deserve better, we’ll hold this administration accountable for complying with the law and requiring automakers to provide state of the art, fuel efficient vehicles.”

The transportation sector is the single largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The Center for Biological Diversity is dedicated to ensuring that atmospheric carbon dioxide pollutant levels are reduced to below 350 parts per million (ppm), which leading climate scientists warn is necessary to prevent devastating climate change. Rapid transition of the U.S. auto fleet is required to achieve this goal. Continued “business as usual” greenhouse gas emissions will trigger mass wildlife extinctions, catastrophic global weather and ecosystem changes, and tragic human suffering.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the federal agency that sets the corporate average fuel-economy (CAFE) standards, or the average fuel efficiencies for all vehicles sold by each automobile company. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the CAFE standard of 35 mpg by 2020. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to set the CAFE standard at the “maximum feasible” level to conserve gasoline.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 180,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


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