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January 25, 2011 

President Obama Should Highlight Policies that Benefit Economy, Environment, Public Health Tonight

WASHINGTON (January 25, 2011) – In his State of the Union address this evening, President Obama is expected to focus on the need to strengthen the economy, boost U.S. competitiveness, and create new jobs.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the president should make the case tonight that policies that create new economic opportunities also can protect public health and reduce pollution. Policies that promote cleaner cars and clean energy are just two examples, the organization says, where smart investments generate new jobs, curb our dependence on fossil fuels, clean up our air, and save consumers money.

The president already has created jobs and strengthened the economy by raising vehicle fuel economy standards to nearly 35 miles per gallon by 2016. A UCS analysis of similar clean car standards found that reaching 35 miles per gallon by 2018 would generate nearly 24,000 new jobs in the auto industry and 241,000 jobs economywide in 2020 and save consumers nearly $40 billion, after accounting for the cost of fuel-efficient technology. The new jobs are created by increased demand for labor in the auto industry as well as by more consumer spending on goods and services when drivers spend less at the gas pump.

The Obama administration announced in May that it would move forward with a new set of standards covering vehicles built between 2017 and 2025. Just yesterday, the Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency joined the California Air Resources Board announced a joint agreement to simultaneously propose, in September, respective federal and state standards for fuel efficiency and vehicle global warming emissions. According to recent DOT and EPA analysis, new fleetwide standards could be more than 60 miles per gallon by 2025. Such standards would save consumers from $5,700 to $7,400 over the life of the vehicle, after accounting for the cost of new fuel-saving technology. The agencies’ analysis also found that the strongest standards would save consumers the most money and deliver the greatest oil savings.

A September 2010 analysis by UCS and the Natural Resources Defense Council found that reaching a 60 mile per gallon goal would save consumers $101 billion in 2030, or $748 per household. With more investment and savings, analysts expect a 60 mile per gallon fleetwide standard to generate even more jobs than the 2016 standard.

The Obama administration has made clean car standards a centerpiece of its domestic agenda. Those new standards are a key example of how the Clean Air Act can deliver economic, public health and environmental benefits. UCS experts urge President Obama to continue to highlight Clean Air Act success stories to push back against corporate polluters and their allies in Congress, who are trying to undermine this bedrock public health law.

Clean energy investments also can go a long way to shore up the economy and cut pollution. A March 2009 UCS analysis found that a federal renewable electricity standard requiring utilities to deliver 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025 would result in a net job gain of 202,000. Overall, the analysis found that a national renewable electricity standard would create more than three times as many jobs as producing an equivalent amount of electricity from fossil fuels.

 

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

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