Higher standards for MPG will pay off

If you are fuming about having to shell out your hard-earned cash for Memorial Day gas prices in March, you are not alone. The hard truth: Prices at the pump are not getting better any time soon. Officially, the current average price for regular unleaded in Chicago is $4.13, which is up a wallet-thumping 64-cent rise since January and is 30 cents higher than the current national average of $3.83.

Fortunately, real relief is on the way for Illinois consumers — and it is the kind of help that will be easy on our wallets and good for the U.S. economy as a whole.

The U.S. auto industry is accelerating toward 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 as agreed to and supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 13 automakers, the United Auto Workers and other stakeholders.

Don’t listen to people who mistakenly think high MPG autos are too expensive for you to afford. Based on EPA estimates, the 54.5 MPG standard will save consumers a net of $4,400 over the life of their vehicles.

Experts estimate that already there are 150,000 jobs in 300 automotive supply companies across 43 states (including Illinois) that make parts enabling cars and trucks to cut deadly pollution and go much farther on a gallon of gas. Every dollar we don’t spend on gasoline is kept here in our country, which helps to fuel our economic growth. Higher MPG will mean that Americans spend half a trillion dollars less on oil over the next two decades. While some of these huge benefits may seem far off, Illinois consumers can rest assured when they next are getting held up at the gas pump that things will get better soon, thanks to higher MPG standards.

Roland Hwang

Transportation program director

Natural Resources Defense Council


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