To the Editor:
Our country has the tools and ingenuity to improve the efficiency of our cars and trucks to at least 60 miles per gallon by 2025. It is no secret however that our government leaders have been bowing repeatedly to special interests, such as Big Oil and the automakers that American tax dollars bailed out from bankruptcy. In the past, it has taken an uprising of activism from average citizens to gain common-sense solutions to improve our automobiles. Remember how vigorously the auto industry opposed installing seat belts and air bags? Automakers claimed that these lifesaving measures could not be done and it would kill jobs. Instead, the technology has become the standard and it saves millions of lives each year.
Thankfully, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation is comprised of tireless environmental and consumer advocates. Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Congressman Cicilline and Langevin have all expressed their support for the national regulatory proposals that require a minimum of 60 MPG. In addition, Senator Reed’s leadership in defending the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to set greenhouse gas standards for 2017-2025 vehicles has allowed Rhode Island and 14 other states to adopt cleaner car standards and catapulted our state to help lead the nation in these strong standards. These congressional efforts have opened the door for national regulatory change to adopt stronger fuel efficiency standards for all new vehicles.
With Rhode Islanders facing gas prices of $4 a gallon by the end of this summer with no long-term relief in sight, it is clear that American automakers need to build cars and trucks that guzzle less gas. Recognizing this, President Obama has the opportunity to cut our foreign oil dependency, save Rhode Islanders money at the gas pump, and cut dangerous emissions that threaten our health by setting strong fuel economy and carbon pollution standards for cars and trucks. In fact, if the average car drove at the 60 miles per gallon standard this summer, Rhode Islanders could continue our trips to the beaches while saving over $215 million at the pump, or $474 per household – and that is just in three months.
Our congressional delegation has led the path for our ability to slash air pollution, conserve our oil use, and keep more money in Rhode Islanders’ pockets. President Obama needs to answer the call to action, put American ingenuity to work, and begin to move us beyond oil by calling for the average car and light truck to go at least 60 miles per gallon by 2025. Rhode Islanders simply cannot afford for President Obama to back down.
Mr. Jones is the Chairperson of the Sierra Club’s Rhode Island Chapter.