A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fuel efficiency is a tax cut.

A recent op-ed from Jane West of the Conservation Law Foundation and car dealer Adam Lee has some mind-boggling statistics relating to the stricter fuel economy standards that Maine has long fought for, and finally won this year:

In the Greater Portland area, transportation accounts for nearly half of our energy use, carbon emissions and costs, to the tune of over $450 million on gasoline and $140 million on diesel fuel. This dwarfs the $224 million that the region spends on heating oil every year.

...the Obama administration’s new fuel economy and emissions standards for America’s cars are welcome news. For those of us here in Maine, the “clean cars program” will save 57 million gallons of gasoline, the equivalent of permanently removing 105,550 cars from our roads. The savings to our wallets will be $157 million dollars at the pump.

Put another way, if people who bought cars last year from the Lee family of auto dealerships alone got another 10 miles per gallon better fuel economy, they would be able to save 1.2 million gallons of gasoline, or more than $3.5 million at today’s prices.
Saving $150 million a year is roughly equivalent to $100 for every man, woman, and child in the state. Still, Maine households are spending WAY too much on their cars, and fuel efficiency is only part of the solution. People need a lot more opportunities to drive less.

Not mentioned in these statistics: by not burning 57 million gallons of gasoline each year, Mainers are also getting out of paying $27 million in gas taxes every year to the Department of Transportation. Highway-building bureaucrats might want to retire now while they still have their cushy pensions.

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