Clean Cars Should Not Run on Dirty Fuels

Clean cars and dirty fuels don’t mix. EPA and DOT will issue final standards to strengthen fuel efficiency and slash carbon pollution spewing from 2017-2025 vehicles. These standards pick up where the standards for 2012-2016 vehicles leave off, promising 13 years of continuous improvement in new vehicles. Automakers are churning out vehicles with better fuel efficiency and lower emissions. These steps forward are a win, saving us billions at the pump and cutting heat-trapping climate pollution and demand for oil.

Cleaner cars should not fill up with dirty fuels. Furnace-like temperatures, scorching drought, and extreme weather should be enough to warrant immediate action to curb emissions of the pollution causing global warming. Slashing greenhouse gas emissions is the driver behind EPA’s standards that demand the fleet of vehicles sold in 2025 will emit 163 grams per mile of climate pollution, half of what the 2011 fleet of new vehicles emitted, keeping more than 600 million metric tons of carbon pollution out of the atmosphere in 2030 alone. Just as automakers are racing to bring the best of today’s technologies to market and innovate for the future, Big Oil is racing to bring ever dirtier fuels to the market.

Oil companies are ripping up lush Boreal Forest in Alberta to dig out tar sands that are then refined into gasoline. Accounting for upstream emissions, producing a barrel of tar sands oil emits 20 percent more carbon pollution than conventional oil, on top of the toxic tailing ponds and other damage extracting this fuel causes. Fracking, the dirty and polluting process for extracting natural gas, is being applied to extract oil in multiple states including North Dakota. Fracking for oil releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere either by venting or flaring, increasing the upstream emissions profile of this oil (along with other problems).

As we demand more of the auto industry to cut dangerous climate pollution, it is time to demand that Big Oil keep dirty fuels out of the mix.


Ann Mesnikoff is Green Transportation Campaign Director of the Sierra Club