Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. My name is Jason Mark, and I direct the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. UCS is a nonprofit partnership of scientists and citizens that has been working at the intersection of science and policy for over 30 years.
I am going to speak to you today about our continuing struggle to achieve clean air and, in particular, the importance of improving transportation efficiency in addressing air pollution and global warming.
The State of Transportation-Related Air Quality
Despite years of progress, we are far from solving the transportation-related air quality problem in the United States. 108 million Americans still live in areas that do not meet federal clean air standards, and vehicles are a major cause. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for roughly half of all emissions that contribute to ground-level ozone, or smog. In urban areas, motor vehicles are typically the dominant polluter. For example, one recent government study estimates that over 90% of the cancer risk from polluted air in the Los Angeles region comes from cars and trucks.
Rising vehicle travel, a changing vehicle fleet, and the realities of vehicle performance in the real world all pose key hurdles to achieving acceptable levels of air quality.
· Rising Travel. There are now more vehicles in the United States than licensed drivers. Combined with increasing travel rates per vehicle, the number of miles that Americans are driving continues to rise. Vehicle travel is expected to increase nearly 50% over the next 20 years, a trend that will undo the progress we are currently making to achieve clean air.
· Shifting Markets. SUVs and other light trucks are allowed to emit up to 2.5 times more smog-forming pollutants than cars under current tailpipe standards. While this loophole will be phased out by 2009 under EPA’s Tier 2 regulations, the fact that light trucks have historically been held to more lax standards has resulted in the average light truck on the road today emitting 47% more smog-forming pollutants than the average car. Nationwide, these loopholes have added 41 million cars worth of smog-forming pollution in recent years.
· Real World Emissions. While emissions from vehicles are reaching very low levels as measured over government tests, real world emissions are typically several times higher. For example, today’s average gasoline car emits smog-forming pollution at more than twice the rate measured during certification testing. Thus, while the auto industry often claims that their vehicles are over 96% cleaner than three decades ago, the evidence in the field does not quite bear this out. Similarly, a $1 billion clean air settlement in 1998 between diesel engine makers and the EPA—one resulting from engine makers selling engines that are estimated to have emitted 28 million cars worth of smog-forming pollution—reminds us that our big rigs have some distance to travel in staying clean over their million-mile lifetimes.
Fortunately, new technologies are available that will take cars and trucks the next step towards cleaning the air. Gasoline powered vehicles are beginning to enter the market that are 10 times cleaner than the average. Diesel technology is emerging in response to new federal standards that will cut pollution from heavy vehicles ten-fold.
Even cleaner options are moving onto the road. Electric-drive vehicles, such as battery, hybrid, and fuel cell cars and trucks, promise zero or near-zero emissions. And new fuels, such as natural gas, are cutting toxic soot pollution from transit and school buses. Together, this combination of cleaner fuels and advanced technology will be essential if we are to protect public health in the 21st century.
The Role of Fuel Consumption
But even as we move to cleaner vehicles, we will continue to be plagued by emissions associated with the production and delivery of fuels. For example, the refining and distribution of each gallon of gasoline results in over 6 grams of smog-forming pollution and nearly 3 grams of toxic pollutants. These emissions are a direct result of driving—even though they do not come from vehicle tailpipes—because as we use more fuel, more pollution is created to make the fuel. As new regulations clean up tailpipes, these so-called upstream emissions will become the dominant source of vehicle pollution.
The best strategy for reducing gasoline-related emissions, of course, is to reduce gasoline use itself. This approach prevents air emissions before they are created and has the added benefit of addressing one of the most significant environmental challenges facing the planet: global warming.
Each gallon of gasoline yields 24 pounds of the greenhouse gases that result in climate change. Scientists worldwide agree that humans are having a measurable impact on our climate. And the potential economic and environmental consequences are severe. Higher temperatures can also increase air pollution. Smog, which forms in the presence of heat and sunlight, increases with even small temperature changes. For example, one recent study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that temperature increases in the Los Angeles region over the next half-century could create 2.7 million cars-worth of pollution. We believe there is a strong policy case, then, for giving EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
Of course, climate change is a global issue, since emissions anywhere in the world have an impact on our climate. But US cars and trucks alone emit more global warming pollution than all but three countries in the world—so any global effort to reduce the threat of climate change must address vehicles on American roads.
Fortunately, technologies exist that can address fuel use from the vehicle fleet. The Union of Concerned Scientists and the Center for Auto Safety recently published an analysis outlining a safe and economically sound path to boosting automotive efficiency. Using existing technologies—such as variable-valve engines, multi-speed or continuously variable transmissions, and weight savings—we estimate that passenger vehicles could reach an average of 40 miles per gallon over the next ten years, up from today’s average of 24 mpg. The greenhouse gas savings would be equivalent to taking nearly 60 million cars off the road by 2012. And, by using less fuel, we would save 440 million pounds of smog-forming pollution and 200 million pounds of toxics annually from refining and distributing gasoline.
Boosting fuel economy to 40 mpg is also the environmentally responsible strategy to addressing our oil dependence. In ten years, we would save more oil than is economically recoverable from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in over 50 years. And consumers would save $16 billion per year by 2012 through lower costs at the pump.
The National Academy of Sciences recently completed its much-anticipated evaluation of fuel economy technology. Their results confirm that technology can cost-effectively boost the fuel economy of our vehicles. Using a subset of the technologies that we have evaluated, the NAS estimates that light trucks could reach 28-30 mpg at a cost of $1,200-1,300, and cars 34-37 mpg at a cost of $600-650. We believe that, for an additional investment of $600-700 per vehicle, we could reach a fleet average of 40 mpg while saving drivers $3,000-5,000 at the pump over the life of their vehicle.
I want to make one final point about the role of policies in achieving environmental goals. UCS strongly supports incentives programs that encourage industry to deliver cleaner, more efficient vehicles. We have worked closely with several automakers to develop tax credits for advanced vehicles, embodied in the CLEAR Act that several members of this committee have supported. As the Senate takes up this important legislation, we urge you to maintain the environmental provisions that guarantee credits will flow to vehicles that are both efficient and clean. We also urge you to consider incentives for cleaner trucks and buses, such as legislation recently introduced in the House that would provide federal grants to school districts that replace their dirtiest, least safe diesel buses with commercially available clean buses that protect children’s health.
But incentives only work within a framework where firm standards guarantee environmental gains. Virtually all of the progress we have made to date with respect to motor vehicles and air pollution has been the result of government action. The evidence suggests that past regulatory programs have been highly effective. For example, the cost effectiveness of nearly every major vehicle emissions regulation aimed at reducing smog precursors over the past 15 years has been less than $1 per pound,  even as emissions requirements have become ever more stringent. We have a history of overestimating costs of environmental programs and making dire predictions over the impact of new rules.
Nearly thirty years ago, federal regulators enacted new rules to require the first catalytic converters on passenger vehicles. The industry sued for a delay. In a 1973 hearing, GM’s vice president for environmental affairs said: “[I]f GM is forced to introduce catalytic converter systems across the board on 1975 models, the prospect of unreasonable risk of business catastrophe and massive difficulties with these vehicles in the hands of the public may be faced. It is conceivable that complete stoppage of the entire production could occur, with the obvious tremendous loss to the company, shareholders, employees, suppliers, and communities.”  GM won a delay in the rule but went on to introduce catalytic converters on all of its models beginning in 1975.
As we struggle to address transportation-related air quality and climate change, I urge you to consider strong standards that set aggressive, yet achievable, goals for industry’s engineers. We will make important progress through your continued support for key air quality programs such as the Tier 2 tailpipe standards and accompanying low-sulfur fuel requirements. The next step in improving the environmental performance of vehicles is boosting the fuel economy of our fleet. This is an issue that Congress has not addressed for over a decade, yet we believe the technical, economic, and environmental case for action is clear. The technology exists to cost-effectively bring SUVs, pickups, and minivans up to the fuel economy standards of cars and then boost the entire fleet to over 40 miles per gallon over the next ten years. It is a policy path that is good for consumers’ pocketbooks and good for the environment.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Committee today. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
 Population of US regions that are out of attainment for meeting the current 1-hour ozone standard as of January 29, 2001. Source: http://www.epa.gov/oar/oaqps/greenbk/onsum.html.
 Hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are the key precursors to ground-level ozone.
 South Coast Air Quality Management District. Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study in the South Coast Air Basin (MATES-II). Diamond Bar, CA: SCAQMD. September 2000.
 Energy Information Administration. Annual Energy Outlook 2001. Washington, DC: US Department of Energy. December 2000.
 Mark, J. Greener SUVs: A Blueprint for Cleaner, More Efficient Light Trucks. Cambridge, MA: UCS. July 1999.
 Hwang, R.J. “Getting to Zero: Comments on the Zero-Emission Vehicle Program,” presented at the California Air Resources Board Hearing on the 2000 Zero Emission Vehicle Program Biennial Review. Sacramento, CA. September 7-8, 2000.
 Mark, J. and C. Morey. Rolling Smokestacks: Cleaning Up America’s Trucks & Buses. Cambridge, MA: UCS. October 2000.
 Friedman, D., J. Mark, P. Monahan, C. Nash, and C. Ditlow. Drilling in Detroit: Tapping Automaker Ingenuity to Build Safe and Efficient Automobiles. Cambridge, MA: UCS. June 2001.
 Taha, H. Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Tropospheric Ozone in California: A Preliminary Episodic Modeling Assessment of the Los Angeles Basin and Sacramento Valley. Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. January 2001.
 Friedman et al. 2001, op cit.
 Personal communication. Tom Cackette, Chief Deputy Executive Officer, California Air Resources Board.
 Applications for Suspension of 1975 Motor Vehicle Emission Standards, Decision of the Administrator on Remand from the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, April 11, 1973, hearing transcript, at 29-30, cited in Clarence Ditlow, “Federal Regulation of Motor Vehicle Emissions under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970,” Ecological Law Journal. 1975, pp. 495-504; and “EPA—Auto Emission Standards,” Congressional Quarterly, March 17, 1973, p. 600.
 Doyle, J. Taken for a Ride: Detroit’s Big Three and the Politics of Pollution. New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows. April 2000.