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New Fuel-Efficiency Standards Could Mean Big Savings For Texans

Friday, April 20, 2012 - 03:31 PM

Pickup truck in Houston. Photo by Gail Delaughter/KUHF

(Houston, TX -- Gail Delaughter, KUHF) As we've reported, a new study quantifies how much American's will save, in money and pollution, from higher-mileage cars hitting the roads. Well, the state that tops the list of savings is the oil state itself, Texas.

The report by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that U.S. drivers could save $68 billion under new fuel efficiency standards set to be implemented in 2030. Texas drivers will save more than $7 billion under a 54 m.p.g.  standard.

Auto industry analyst Alan Baum says automakers are already creating new vehicles in advance of a 35 m.p.g. standard that goes into effect in 2016. That includes pickup trucks, a popular vehicle with Texans.

"The consumer can pick the vehicle they want to serve their purpose and then find vehicles that have much better fuel economy," he said.

He's also seeing more people buy new vehicles because of high gas prices. "People are coming in and saying, I understand I've got a lot more choice here, there's better fuel economy, and I don't have to make a compromise in buying my vehicle. Please get me out of this thing and sell me a new product."

As for gas prices in Texas, the average price has been hovering around $3.83 a gallon, much less than the $4.00 mark currently seen in places like New York and California.

Texans do a lot of driving, and large vehicles such as pickup trucks are popular modes of transportation in both urban and rural areas.  Federal transportation figures show Texas has close to 15 million registered motor vehicles. The state ranks just behind California in the number of licensed drivers, with over 13 million people behind the wheel.

You can hear the KUHF story here.

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Comments [1]

The Mommy

You know, I have to admit that I'm not terribly impressed.

Reason #1: In Texas we very recently raised speed limits in many rural areas to 75 mph. Cars are, on average, nearly 25% less efficient than they are at 55 mph (e.g., http://blogs.star-telegram.com/honkin_mad/2012/01/speed-limit-going-up-to-75-mph-on-another-1500-miles-of-texas-highways-80-mph-limit-still-in-place-i.html). We'd be saving plenty of money *now* if we could all slow down a bit.

Reason #2: If more of us could live in truly walkable, bikeable communities, we could save money by leaving the vehicles in the driveway and using much less gas to begin with.

Reason #3: Better yet, we could recognize all the direct and indirect costs of car ownership and advocate for sidewalks, bike lanes, transit, and a little more density (so you don't have to walk 2 miles along a frontage road to get groceries, for instance). The costs of car ownership: http://commutesolutions.org/external/tcod.html

Cars can be awfully handy, but it's probably time we start thinking outside the box--or, in this case, steel cage--and think more creatively about our transportation challenges.

Apr. 21 2012 02:42 AM

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