The Mellman Group, a leading Washington, D.C.-based pollster, today released the results of a poll showing that U.S. voters overwhelmingly support an ambitious increase in fuel economy standards by 2025.
The high-level findings:
- 74% favor a federal standard requiring the auto industry to meet a 60 mpg fleetwide average.
- 83% favor paying an additional $3,000 for a vehicle in 2025 if they would then save $3,000 in gasoline costs within four years of purchasing the vehicle.
- 75% of respondents felt that increasing average mpg for vehicles would either create new American jobs or have no affect on jobs.
- 86% of respondents felt that the technology needed to achieve a 60 mpg standard already exists or could be developed with a serious effort.
The national random telephone poll of 1,000 likely voters has a margin of error of 3.1 percent. The poll was commissioned by a coalition of environmental groups. See complete results of the poll (PDF: 80kb).
Draft of 2025 Rules Coming Due
The point of the poll was not to predict consumer-buying patterns, but to understand how voters would respond to new rules covering fuel efficiency targets for vehicle model years 2017 through 2025. The Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency are working to deliver a “Notice of Intent” on fuel efficiency targets by the end of this month.
Exactly one year ago today, President Obama released a proposed 1,227-page set of regulations for implementing standards requiring cars to average 35.5 mpg by 2016.
In May 2010, the 35.5 mpg target by 2016 went into effect. Speaking at a White House Rose Garden ceremony to announce the 2016 goal, President Obama said, “Consumers pay less for fuel, which means less money going overseas and more money to save or spend here at home. The economy as a whole runs more efficiently by using less oil and producing less pollution.” The ceremony was attended by auto executives, labor leaders, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 gives the Administration the ability to set 2017 – 2025 standards according to what is a “maximum feasible level.”
Defining Maximum Feasibility
The sponsoring environmental groups—including Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment America, the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists—have already established from a technical perspective that 60 mpg is feasible by 2025. NRDC, for example, says that carmakers would simply have to better incorporate existing fuel-saving technologies into their product lines. The group says that by 2025 a mix of 30 percent conventional gas cars, 15 percent electric vehicles and 55 percent hybrids would be sufficient to reach the standard.
The next question is if the voting public would support 60 mpg as a feasible target. The poll indicates the answer is unequivocally yes.
“60 mpg doesn’t sound like a crazy number to the public. They believe the auto companies have the technology to achieve it,” said Aaron Huertas, spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, in an interview with HybridCars.com. The poll indicates that the vast majority of American believe that 60 mpg is not only feasible, but would make domestic car companies more competitive, produce more jobs for U.S. workers, reduce national dependence on foreign oil, and improve the environment.
The environmental organizations see increased fuel economy as one of the biggest potential wins for climate change, according to Huertas. “It’s a bright spot in the environmental agenda,” he said.
The environmental organizations developed their campaign—including the poll, technical support work and the go60mpg.org website—to build the case for aggressive targets achieved by existing technologies and backed by public demand. In the next two weeks or so, administrators from the EPA and DOT will be preparing their notice of intent for the 2017 to 2025 mpg targets. “We hope they’re listening to us,” Huertas said.