AUSTIN — As Texas families prepare for one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, a new Environment Texas report finds that more fuel efficient cars would save Texans over $16 million at the gas pump this Thanksgiving holiday alone. The report was released as new federal fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks are being developed.
“This Thanksgiving, Texans should be focused on clearing their plates, not clearing out their wallets at the gas pump,” said Joyce Yao, the Clean Energy Associate for Environment Texas. “Cleaner cars would keep about $12 in each Texas family’s wallet this Thanksgiving. That’s $16 million in savings in one weekend alone.”
With 1.4 million families taking to the road to visit family and friends this Thanksgiving, Texans are expected to spend over $29 million at the gas pump for their holiday travel. Environment Texas pointed to the inefficiency of our cars and trucks as one of the main reasons why Texas tops the list, second only to California, on money spent on gasoline.
Environment Texas was joined by State Representative Mark Strama, Central Texas Clean Cities coordinator Stacy Neef, founder of Green Veterans Jake Stewart, and Public Citizen’s Research Associate Andy Wilson in releasing today’s report.
“With our native wind and solar resources, Texas could be a global leader in plug-in electric cars fueled entirely by renewable energy. With the release in coming months of GM's Volt and the Nissan Leaf, new automotive technology is rapidly transforming the future of transportation fuels, and Texas needs to position itself to lead this transition. Consumers will be the big winners when we are no longer exposed to the volatility of gasoline prices,” said Representative Mark Strama.
“A 60 mile per gallon fuel economy standard would result in cleaner air, a healthier economy, and improved national security as we become less dependent on foreign oil in our everyday lives, such as traveling to work and picking up our children from school,” said Stacy Neef, Central Texas Clean Cities Coordinator.
The new report, “Gobbling Less Gas for Thanksgiving: How Clean Cars Can Save Americans Money and Cut Oil Use,” used regional Thanksgiving travel projections released last week by AAA to determine how many Texans would be traveling more than 50 miles by car this Thanksgiving. The report then estimated how much money would be saved at the gas pump—and how much less oil would be used—if the average car taking those trips in Texas this Thanksgiving got 60 miles per gallon instead of the current 26.4 miles per gallon.
The report estimated the following benefits would be realized over the Thanksgiving holiday if the average car got 60 miles per gallon:
· Texans would save roughly $29 million at the gas pump, or $12 per family.
· 5,925,000 fewer gallons of oil would be consumed in Texas.
While the Environment Texas report examined the potential benefits from just one holiday weekend’s worth of travel, a separate analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists found that a fleet-wide 60 miles per gallon fuel efficiency standard for new cars and light trucks in 2025 would save Texans $1.4 million at the gas pump in 2030.
Multiple studies have shown that the technology exists today to make our cars and trucks much cleaner and more fuel efficient. Conventional cars and trucks can be made with more efficient engines and more lightweight materials, while hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles can go dramatically farther on a gallon of gas.
Recognizing all of this, the Obama administration recently finalized clean car standards for cars and light trucks, covering model years 2012-2016, which represented the largest increase in fuel efficiency in more than 30 years and the first-ever global warming tailpipe pollution standards. But realizing that we can and need to go even further, the Obama administration is currently developing new fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2017-2025. Environment Texas is part of a broad coalition of groups urging the Administration to move clean cars into the fast lane by making 60 mile per gallon cars the norm instead of the exception to the rule.
"Over 60% of the oil we use is imported from foreign sources, and we have over 200,000 service men and women operating in the oil-rich Middle East. More efficient vehicles would relieve pressure on our service people, many of whom will be spending this Thanksgiving in the desert with their units. It's great to put a patriotic bumper sticker on your truck but, reducing fuel demand is among the most patriotic acts we can do as civilian consumers,” said Jake Stewart, founder of Green Veterans.
“Whether the green you care about is the environment or the cash in your pocket, fuel efficiency is a win-win solution. We can save the environment and save money for hard-working Texans at the same time,” said Andy Wilson, Research Associate for Public Citizen.
“We should give thanks that clean cars can reap huge benefits for Texas’s economy and our environment,” said Yao. “Now we need the Obama administration to push ahead with the clean car standards that will make these benefits a reality.”