AJC Statement on CAFE Standards

EPA/NHTSA San Francisco Public Hearing
January 24, 2012

Thank you for the opportunity to speak at this joint hearing of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

I am here today, on behalf of AJC’s San Francisco regional office, and on behalf of AJC national and its more than 175,000 members and supporters, to urge that your agencies safeguard— and further strengthen— the fuel economy standards agreed upon in July 2011 between the automakers and the Obama administration. AJC strongly believes that these standards are a critical element of the U.S. commitment to decreasing dependence on foreign oil through enhancement of vehicular efficiency.

As you well know, pursuant to the announcement made last July, fuel economy standards are to be raised to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks between 2017 and 2025, and standards are to be issued for the first time for medium-duty and heavy duty vehicles. This improvement in fuel efficiency for passenger vehicles marks an important step forward in ending U.S. dependence on imported oil. And, importantly—even as we are convinced that we, as a nation, must be prepared to incur additional costs in the cause of reduced dependence and enhanced security—any increased cost associated with making our vehicles more fuel efficient will be offset by the overall savings on gasoline that will come from operating more fuel efficient cars.

Each day, the United States sends 1 billion dollars overseas to pay for the needs of a transportation sector that is 95% dependent on petroleum-based fuels. A quarter of our oil imports come from the Middle East and Venezuela, nations whose interests are inimical to our own. Our nation’s expenditures on imported oil fund the very same nations whose radical movements and unstable regimes pose significant threats to America’s national security. Raising fuel economy standards sends a clear signal that America is on the path toward ending its oil addiction and the flow of petro-dollars to the coffers of these regimes.

AJC has long called for the United States to set as a primary national goal a comprehensive energy policy aimed at a substantial reduction in U.S. dependence on imported oil. Toward that end, AJC has unveiled a national energy strategy that would reduce total current U.S. imports of petroleum and petroleum products by a minimum of 2.75–3.25 million barrels a day by 2020. Increasing fuel economy standards is an essential element of that strategy—even as it is far from the last step to be taken. We urge you and the Obama administration to continue this important effort by working to ensure that our nation’s vehicle fleets continue to be held to the highest feasible standard, and by looking for opportunities to further raise fuel economy standards, as well by expanding the availability and variety of alternative fuel vehicles (through open fuel standard, electrification and enhanced use of natural gas).

Thank you again for providing us the opportunity to express our views.