Gas prices

CAFE Standards

The Road to Fuel EfficiencyBy Adriana Lenarczyk

Second in a five-part series on climate change issues.

Happy Climate Week, everybody!

So, I was standing on the subway on my way to work (chances are you don’t get to sit down on your crowded morning commute from Bushwick, Brooklyn) and as I stood squished between a businessman and a street punk, I found myself missing the privacy and freedom of my car back in Portland, OR. Steel-grey 2009 Jetta, heated seats (!), the incredible amount of trunk space, and 27 miles to the gallon (which was pretty good back then).

And that got me thinking of sky-high gas prices in New York City. Which got me thinking about my boyfriend’s gas-guzzling SUV that got 15 mpg. Which made me cringe at the thought of the cost of gas for our backpacking trip to Vermont this weekend. Which made me wonder:

Why don’t we just trade these enormous hunks of steel for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars? I mean, are people buying them? Wait, no, are car manufacturers actually producing more fuel-efficient vehicles??

And just then, I learned about CAFE standards—

CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy, are regulations that were first enacted by Congress in 1975, intending to improve the average fuel economy of cars and “light trucks” (i.e. trucks, vans, and SUVs) sold in the United States.

In 2009, President Obama proposed a new national fuel economy program which adopts federal standards to regulate both fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions. The program covers years 2012 to 2016, and ultimately requires an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016 (39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for trucks), which is a pretty decent jump from the current average of 29 mpg. The result of all this is a projected reduction in oil consumption of about 1.8 billion barrels over the life of the program and a projected total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 900 million metric tons.

So if you’re thinking of buying a new car consider an electric vehicle. The U.S. government offers a $7,500 federal tax credit with the purchase of a new Tesla acquired for personal use. In Southern California, where my parents live, electric vehicle purchasers are eligible for a rebate up to $2,500 from the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) until funds are exhausted. Currently there are no state incentives for New York, but things may change.

More information on EPA Fuel Economy can be found at: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

To read the entire proposed rule for carbon pollution emission guidelines, please visit: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/06/18/2014-13726/carbon-pollution-emission-guidelines-for-existing-stationary-sources-electric-utility-generating#h-13

About the Author: Adriana Lenarczyk wrote this as an intern in EPA’s Region 2 Public Affairs Division. Adriana is originally from the West Coast.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Bike to Work, It's Easier Than You Think!

By Joe Edgell.

Gas prices skyrocket. Delays on the subway. Accidents on the Beltway. Police and fire activity blocking roads and snarling traffic.

Seems like there’s no way to get to work easily, on time, and with minimal cost.

Unless you consider commuting by bike. And this Friday, May 18 is Bike-to-Work Day, the perfect time to see how it works.

Here are the top ten reasons to join me and about 10,000 other bicyclists this Friday:

  1. According to the Outdoor Foundation, bicycling is the second most popular outdoor activity in the United States;
  2. Adults who bike to work have better weight, blood pressure, and insulin levels;
  3. Women who bike 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer;
  4. Bicycling boosts the economy, with $5.6 billion in bikes and equipment sold in 2009;
  5. On a round-trip commute of 10 miles, bicyclists save around $10 daily;
  6. Traffic congestion wastes nearly 3.9 billion gallons of gas per year in the U.S.;
  7. Increased bicycling decreases vehicle traffic accidents;
  8. The transportation sector is responsible for 71% of all U.S. petroleum use.
  9. Bicycling produces only 21 grams of CO2 per person per kilometer, compared to 101 grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometer for buses, and a whopping 271 grams per passenger per kilometer for cars; and most importantly
  10. The health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by a factor of 20 to one!*

And today bicycling is easier than ever. There are electric motor-assisted bicycles to help you with that push up the hill, bike sharing so you don’t have to worry about maintenance, and shower facilities at many employers, such as EPA.

Come out this Friday, bike with a group of people to a nearby celebration (or the massive celebration at the Reagan Building if you’re in DC), and take the first step in de-stressing your morning commute by biking to work.

I’ve been biking to work for the past eight years and love it. I’m healthier and happier. You’ll find it changes your entire outlook on the day!

*A special thanks to Bikesbelong.org for the biking benefits studies.

General information about biking to work

About the author: Joe Edgell is an attorney for the Office of General Counsel. Perched atop the bicycling baby seat, he’s been bicycling since before he could walk.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.