EPA Fuel Efficiency

July 29th, 2005

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Yesterday’s New York Times contained an article about EPA’s forthcoming report on fuel efficiency, noting that the report’s release has been delayed a week,

“The executive summary of the copy of the report obtained by The Times acknowledges that “fuel economy is directly related to energy security,” because consumer cars and trucks account for about 40 percent of the nation’s oil consumption. But trends highlighted in the report show that carmakers are not making progress in improving fuel economy, and environmentalists say the energy bill will do little to prod them.”

The article also notes that, “The average 2004 model car or truck got 20.8 miles per gallon, about 6 percent less than the 22.1 m.p.g. of the average new vehicle sold in the late 1980’s, according to the report.” This reminds me of a post here from last March which referred to a bill introduced by Representative Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and cosponsors, called that would require EPA to improve the accuracy of its fuel economy standards, which she claims are overstated. This would seem to be a powerful lever to actually improve fuel standards without entering into the CAFÉ debate.

Question: What happened to this bill? Anonymous insider accounts welcomed.

Here is an excerpt from my March post:

“Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and 24 bipartisan co-sponsors have introduced a bill in Congress that calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to improve the accuracy of its protocol for estimation of vehicle fuel economy (i.e., as measured in miles-per-gallon, mpg). According to a press release issued by Representative Johnson’s office, “America’s car buyers deserve truth-in-advertising when they buy a new car,” said Johnson, who introduced the bill with Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and over two dozen bipartisan co-sponsors. “The current EPA tests clearly mislead car buyers. Car buyers think they’re getting better mileage on the road and a better deal at the pump than they really are. This common-sense bill requires the EPA to update its 30-year-old tests to reflect today’s driving conditions.” The tests used by the EPA to measure fuel economy – the city/highway gas mileage figures that appear on a new car’s sticker – are 30-years-old and are based on car technology from the late 1970s! and 1980s. According to government and auto industry experts, the tests produce gas mileage rates that are inflated from anywhere between 10% and 30%. The inflated rates mislead consumers into thinking they are getting better mileage on the road, and a better deal at the gas pump, than they really are.”

Data should be accurate, who is going to argue with that? If the bill becomes law it may lead to profound effects on actual fuel economy and a political battle waged through EPA estimates of fuel economy….

One Response to “EPA Fuel Efficiency”

  1. John Vermylen Says:

    To answer your question regarding Nancy Johnson’s EPA testing bill, language from her original bill was just passed in the big Energy Bill. While all the findings from the second section of Johnson’s bill were left out, the following section from her original bill was included in the original House version and was left in the final energy bill as well:

    “The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall update or revise the adjustment factors in sections 600.209-85 and 600.209-95, of the Code of Federal Regulations, CFR Part 600 (1995) Fuel Economy Regulations for 1977 and Later Model Year Automobiles to take into consideration higher speed limits, faster acceleration rates, variations in temperature, use of air conditioning, shorter city test cycle lengths, current reference fuels, and the use of other fuel depleting features.”

    This is from Section 774 of the final bill. I’m surprised this hasn’t gotten more coverage in the mainstream press or on the blogs. Perhaps it will not be enforced or will be ignored by the EPA, but if the standards are revised it could do more to raise fuel economy and decrease gasoline consumption than anything else in the energy bill, although that isn’t necessarily saying much.