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Scrapbook: Overwhelming Public Support for New Clean Car Standards

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January 27, 2012

Overwhelming Public Support for New Clean Car Standards

SF-clean-car-rally

At a series of EPA clean car hearings held in late January in Detroit, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, more than 500 citizens turned out to testify in support of stronger fuel economy standards proposed by the Obama administration.

Under the new EPA and National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration standards, new cars would average 54.5 miles-per-gallon by 2025 and emit 35 percent less carbon pollution than 2016 models.

That's Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, above at a lunchtime rally during the San Francisco hearing, and testifying, below.

Michael-Brune-SF-hearing

"Every day we send nearly $1 billion overseas for foreign oil, wasting money that should be fueling American innovation and investment in growing industries like clean energy," Brune said in his testimony. "President Obama's proposal to double the efficiency of America's cars and light trucks is the biggest single step we've ever taken to move America beyond oil."

Listen to Brune's testimony here.

Sierra Club activists were key in turning out citizens to testify at all three hearings, and Club activists wrote op-eds in local newspapers in all three cities and held press events prior to each hearing. Citizens who couldn't attend a hearing but still want to speak up in support of clean cars can submit comments to the EPA by February 15.

"When I testified in Detroit last Tuesday, I was inspired by the near-unanimous support for clean cars from the more than 100 people who came out to give their reasons for supporting clean cars," said Ann Mesnikoff of the Sierra Club's Beyond Oil Campaign. The press conference prior to the hearing was kicked off by Michigan Congressman John Dingell. Below, citizens testify at the Detroit meeting.

Detroit-clean-car-hearing

"Nearly everyone, from the United Auto Workers' members—and the UAW President—to local citizens concerned about air pollution from smog to climate disruption voiced united support for the standards," Mesnikoff said. More than one-quarter of the citizens who testified in Detroit were recruited by the Sierra Club.

Robin-Mann-Philly-hearing

In Philadelphia, record numbers turned out for an EPA hearing, and more than 150 people spoke in support of the new standards. Among those testifying in Philly were Sierra Club President Robin Mann, at left above, and volunteer leaders Jeanette MacNeille and Bryan Crenshaw, below.

MacNeille-Crenshaw

In an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mann wrote that she stood alongside veterans, public health officials, small-business owners, and hundreds of other concerned citizens who support clean cars.

"It's not hard to understand why the idea is popular," Mann said. "Stronger efficiency standards would drive demand for fuel-saving technology and put money back into Americans' pockets. They would create an estimated 484,000 jobs by 2030, including 43,000 in the auto industry, and we would be using 1.5 million fewer barrels of oil per day by 2030—the same amount we imported from Saudi Arabia and Iraq combined last year."

Adoption of the new standards would have the same impact on carbon pollution as shutting down 72 coal-fired power plants for a year.

The lone voice of opposition to the new clean car standards at all three hearings was the National Automotive Dealers Association (or NADA). "But several individual car dealers testified in support of the standards at the San Francisco hearing, and I know they did so in Detroit and Philly as well," says Eddie Scher, Director of the Beyond Oil Campaign. "I was amazed by the breadth of support for the new standards.

Read more about the EPA clean car hearings. And submit your comments to the EPA by February 15.

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