UCS on New Fuel Economy Standards

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The Union of Concerned Scientists has a new Flash animation parodying the Bush administration's flawed proposal to revamp fuel economy standards in the US. "The animation, which spoofs the popular ABC reality show 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,' asks players to work with a team of vehicle engineers to design the fuel-efficient car of your dreams," but the twist is that part of the team is an auto-industry lobbyist. "For too long the government has allowed auto industry lobbyists to tamper with fuel economy laws, leaving consumers to pay the price at the pump," said David Friedman, research director of the Clean Vehicles Program at UCS. "The public doesn't want more gas-guzzling loopholes. People want an extreme makeover on their auto's fuel economy so they can get the fuel-efficient car, pickup, SUV, and minivan choices we should have had long ago." Check it out and take action against auto-lobbyists.

The tongue-in-cheek animation focuses on UCS's blueprint for a safer, cleaner SUV (known as the "Guardian"). The SUV model utilizes cost-effective technologies that automakers should be using now to make vehicles more fuel efficient while improving safety and maintaining performance. The baseline Guardian would save consumers more than $5,000 on gasoline and would pay for itself in just over a year at today's gasoline prices. Recently featured in the pages of Time and BusinessWeek, the Guardian blueprint is based on improvements to the Explorer SUV, a vehicle produced by Ford Motor Company, a chief sponsor of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

The administration proposal on fuel economy regulations continues to exempt the most gas-thirsty segment of the market—vehicles weighing more than 8,500 pounds, such as the Hummer H2, the Dodge Ram 2500, and the now defunct Ford Excursion—from any standards at all. This leaves farmers, contractors and other businesses with no options to help them fight high fuel costs. The administration's plan may also create additional loopholes with a new structure based on vehicle size (the bigger the vehicle, the lower your fuel economy target) that could wipe out the minuscule proposed 1.8-mpg increase over time. This sets up the potential for automakers to upsize their trucks to take advantage of weaker standards, furthering the erosion that has taken place since fuel economy peaked in 1987 as automakers have shifted from "cars" to "light trucks" with lower fuel economy standards.

Thanks to Scott Nathanson of the UCS for the email.

::Extreme Auto Makeover Flash Movie, ::Press Release, ::Union of Concerned Scientists, ::SUV Solutions by the Union of Concerned Scientists, ::Eco-Tip: Environmental Choices by the UCS, ::Emissions-Free Autos? Who Knew? Not the UCS, and Not You.

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