Earlier this morning, BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster joined United Auto Workers President Bob King and National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Larry Schweiger to testify at a joint EPA-NHTSA hearing in Detroit to support the proposed 54.5 mpg fuel economy standard, saying it will create jobs and protect our environment. Below is Foster's testimony submitted for the hearing.
The testimony can also be found here as a PDF.
Public Hearings for 2017 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle
Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards
Detroit, MI - January 17, 2012
Testimony of David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance
Good morning, distinguished members of the panel. My name is David Foster, and I am Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance — a national partnership of America’s largest labor unions and environmental organizations, uniting 15 million members and supporters in support of a clean energy economy.
I would first like to commend the Obama administration and specifically, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (USDOT) for their outstanding leadership on this critical issue of fuel standards.
America’s working families continue to struggle fill their gas tanks in a steady, but slow, economic recovery. With your leadership, we have an opportunity to help save consumers money at the gas pump, create and preserve American jobs, and strengthen the economy by setting strong fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards.
The BlueGreen Alliance strongly supports the proposed light-duty vehicle standards for model years 2017- 2025 that will raise fuel efficiency to 54.5 mpg (nearly double today’s average fuel efficiency) and limit GHG emissions to 163 grams per mile.
The proposed standards build upon the success of the current round of standards for model years 2012-2016. Combined with this program, by 2025 the U.S. could save an estimated 12 billion barrels of oil (equivalent to 4 years of oil consumption from U.S. light-duty vehicles) and 6 billion metric tons of CO2 (equivalent to one year of total U.S. CO2 pollution) by implementing the proposed standards.
Every day our country sends an estimated $1 billion to foreign countries to pay for oil. Strong standards will keep more of those dollars here in the United States and move America to a more efficient advanced vehicle fleet, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and economic opportunities both inside and outside the auto industry. Based on the agencies’ initial technical assessment, the net consumer savings on fuel expenditures will be very substantial and will provide much-needed relief at the pump.
By developing and producing advanced fuel-saving technology in the United States, automakers and suppliers can create quality jobs and provide the clean, fuel-efficient cars and light trucks consumers want.
Automakers are already making these investments in response to the historic 2012-2016 standards as well as growing consumer demand. From pickup trucks to sedans, American automakers are introducing models with clean, fuel-efficient technology into the marketplace. Models such as the redesigned Ford Explorer SUV and the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt demonstrate the range of conventional and advanced technology improvements available to consumers today.
In 2008 we saw the consequences when automakers had difficulty responding to consumer shifts in response to volatile fuel prices. Strong, feasible standards will provide long-term certainty to the industry and ensure that innovation continues and recent investments in advanced technology pay off. They will also set the stage for weaning America off foreign oil dependence for good, and for the long-term reductions in GHG pollution we need to create a sustainable clean energy economy.
Evidence already exists that bringing cleaner vehicles to the market creates American jobs. For example, the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program will preserve or create nearly 40,000 jobs in the U.S. auto sector, retooling America’s factories to produce advanced technology vehicles and their key components. The Battery and Electric Drive Component grant program is helping establish the United States as a world leader in the production of this exciting new automotive technology.
We also request continuing federal efforts to support auto industry efforts in retooling to meet demand for cleaner, more efficient cars. We are committed to advocate with you for this important support for our domestic industry. Consumers looking to purchase vehicles in the next few years are expressing interest in higher fuel economy. Building the next generation of advanced vehicles in the United States will create tens of thousands of new engineering and manufacturing jobs and strengthen America’s rebounding auto sector.
This is a unique opportunity to fulfill your commitments to create American jobs, protect consumers — whether they drive a car or truck — from high gas prices, and to cut America’s dependence on foreign oil. BlueGreen Alliance partners are committed to promoting the fact that green auto jobs are a win-win for all Americans, and to raise awareness among consumers of the significance of fuel-savings technology.
As you finalize the light-duty standard, we look forward to continuing our engagement with your agency and the other stakeholders working to implement a strong standard, which will maximize oil savings and reductions of GHG pollution, strengthen the U.S. auto industry, increase the deployment of advanced technology, protect U.S automotive jobs, and create more opportunity for American workers.
We applaud the efforts undertaken so far and believe that strong, feasible standards can guarantee the best possible outcome for American workers, our communities, the economy, and the environment.