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May 25, 2011

Transportation News: Labels, EVs, and High Standards

Jackson and LaHood labels
We've been enjoying the news this week that will continue improving our nation's transportation woes.

If you've ever spent time at a car dealership perusing the new vehicle's window labels, you got a little more help today. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation just unveiled new vehicle labels for new cars that will make things a little easier to understand (That's EPA's Lisa Jackson and DOT's Ray LaHood checking out the new labels in the photo above).

New vehicle label The new labels "provide more comprehensive fuel efficiency information, including estimated annual fuel costs, savings, as well as information on each vehicle's environmental impact." EPA's label website allows consumers to explore the new information and customize the data to their region.

Overall, the new labels are a good step toward smarter and clearer labeling for consumers - the first improvement in decades (click the label above to see a bigger version). Smart labels make smart consumers and it's important that consumers have information that will help them make the right choices and save at the pump and cut our addiction to oil.

Unfortunately the labels fail to use an easier to read grade-letter system or specify emissions from charging electric vehicles.


With today's announcement, the Environmental Protection Agency missed an opportunity to give consumers the clearest design possible through letter grades for new cars and light trucks. The letter grade was a winner with our members and supporters but we are deeply disappointed that EPA has given into the auto industry's push against clear and easy-to-read labels for consumers. We are also disappointed that the new labels fail to inform consumers on the emissions caused by charging electric vehicles.

Electricvehicle-plugIn some good news from this week, yesterday we saw the Obama Administration announce a directive that the federal fleet of vehicles must become more advanced and less dependent on oil. The directive "will move the government to purchasing 100 percent alternative fuel vehicles by 2015 and drive agencies to meet the required 30 percent decrease in petroleum consumption by 2020..." (We do hope those infamous flexible fuel vehicles that can run on both gasoline or E-85 or other fuel actually run on the alternatives.)

To get started agencies were directed to drive the right vehicle for the job - in other words no more driving gas guzzling big cars and SUVs when they are not needed. In addition, the federal fleet is also kicking things off with 100 electric vehicles to be used by government agencies in five cities.

"As the nation's largest vehicle fleet operator, the President's fleet management directives and GSA's electric vehicle pilot will cut the Federal fleet's petroleum use and support the development of domestic, clean energy technologies - supporting the President's goal of cutting imports by a third by 2025 and continuing to build a 21st century clean energy economy, while also saving taxpayer dollars," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Finally, do you have high standards? The Sierra Club is part of the Go60mpg Coalition, which just released some great new ads all about having some standards – in this case, telling the Obama Administration that we need 60 mile per gallon cars by 2025. Here are the three ads (click them to enlarge):
Go601 Go602

Go603 Here's the text from the ads being put in newspapers:
Americans have high standards. Our cars should, too. This fall, President Obama can help America reclaim its proud automotive heritage by raising fuel efficiency and auto pollution standards to 60 miles-per-gallon by 2025. Strong standards will save us billions at the gas pump, clean up our air, and put Americans back to work building a new generation of vehicles that create prosperity, not oil dependence. So let's restore our great automotive tradition of innovation and excellence. American technology and know-how can make any new car, truck, or SUV cleaner and more fuel-efficient. All we have to do is hit the accelerator.  If you believe in high standards, join us at Go60MPG.org

Have you asked for some standards yet?

-- Ann Mesnikoff, Director of the Sierra Club Green Transportation Campaign

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