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SURVEY: BIPARTISAN 78% OF U.S. VOTERS REJECT GO-AHEAD-SLOW APPROACH TO FEDERAL MILE-PER-GALLON CAR STANDARDS, STRONG SUPPORT SEEN FOR "40 MPG BY 2010"

Timid Approach to Boosting MPG Would Mean $246 Billion in Higher Gas Bills, 2.4 Trillion Additional Tons of CO2 Pollution Linked to Global Warming, Failure to Offset Middle East Oil Imports.

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WASHINGTON, D.C.///June 6, 2007///Even as major automakers and some federal lawmakers try to slam the brakes on plans to accelerate federal fuel-efficiency vehicle standards, more than three out of four Americans (76 percent) - including 78 percent of 2008 voters - want Congress to raise the mile-per-gallon (MPG) requirement sharply now to 40 MPG by 2010 rather than waiting to reach a more modest MPG goal by 2018, according to a major new Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) survey conducted for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI) think tank and its 40MPG.org project.

It turns out that American voters have excellent reasons to be at odds with automakers, Congress and the Bush Administration when it comes to go-ahead-slow hikes to federal fuel-efficiency vehicle standards: A separate CSI/40MPG.org report shows that, compared to the much more modest 35-MPG-by-2018 approach set out in one major bill on Capitol Hill, a 40-MPG-by-2010 plan would (1) save consumers a total of $246 billion at the gas pump by 2018, (2) cut 2.4 trillion additional pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution linked to global warming and (3) offset the equivalent of the current U.S. reliance on oil imported from the Middle East. Under the more aggressive mileage standard, 58 percent of the vehicles on the road in the U.S. would achieve 40MPG by 2018 versus 11 percent or less under the go-ahead-slow approach.

Key findings of the CSI/40MPG.org survey include the following: There is little partisan difference in the preference of Americans for raising federal standards by 2010 to 40mpg, with support from Democrats at 82 percent, Independents at 80 percent, and Republicans at 72 percent. Half of Americans (53 percent) say they would be more likely to support a candidate who advocated a 40mpg fuel-efficiency standard as a way to lower global warming and reduce U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern oil. Over a quarter of Americans (28 percent) say that a 40 MPG stance would make them as likely to support a candidate, and only 15 percent say it would make them less likely to back such a candidate.

Civil Society Institute President and 40MPG.org founder Pam Solo said: "Today, as Detroit's Big 3 and Toyota launch an astonishingly short-sighted advertising and lobbying campaign to block even modest improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, it is time for Washington and Detroit to address the fact that our nation is needlessly losing the race to develop the best fuel-efficient vehicle technology. American consumers want to purchase these vehicles. Increasing fuel efficiency can simultaneously reduce our reliance on Middle Eastern oil, cut greenhouse emissions, save quality auto industry jobs and help build the US economy."

40MPG.org spokesperson Ailis Aaron Wolf said: "The rest of the world is leaving America behind in the rear-view mirror when it comes to increased vehicle fuel-efficiency standards. The new 40MPG.org report shows that Americans want the more than 100 highly fuel-efficient vehicles already on the road in other parts of the world, but not here in the U.S. Even as Congress considers a go-ahead-slow approaches to gradually raise federal fuel efficiency standards to 35 mpg (or even less) by-2018 (or even later), Europe, China and Asia are all on track to achieve 35-40 MPG during this decade."

Opinion Research Corporation Senior Research Associate Graham Hueber said: "A bipartisan majority of American voters want Congress to act quickly to hike federal fuel-efficiency standards to 40 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2010 instead of moving much slower to reach a lower MPG level a decade later. It is clear that Americans want bold action on fuel-efficiency, not modest steps that unfold over many more years or even decades than is necessary to get the job done."

REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

According to the new CSI/40MPG.org report, a focus on a 40-MPG-by-2010 versus a 35-MPG-by-2018 approach would mean:

  • Total U.S. vehicle carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions under the 35 MPG-by-2018 plan would drop only 3 percent by 2018 from 2010 levels … versus a 14 percent drop under the 40 MPG-by-2010 plan. The 40 MPG approach would take 2.4 trillion more pounds of CO2 emissions out of the air than the go-ahead-slow approach. CO2 pollution is linked to global warming.

  • The 40 MPG-by-2010 plan would more than wipe out by 2018 the equivalent of America's current dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Oil consumption in 2018 would drop by 16 percent (under 40 MPG-by-2010) versus 3 percent (35 MPG-by-2018).

  • Based on a $3-a-gallon gas price, consumers would save $246 billion more at the pump from 2011 through 2018 under the 40 MPG-by-2010 approach than under the much more gradual 35 MPG-by-2018 approach.

For a copy of the full CSI/40MPG.org report and the opinion survey, go to http://www.40MPG.org and http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org on the Web.

SURVEY METHODOLOGY

The new CSI/40MPG.org survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation among a sample of 1,013 adults (504 men and 509 women) aged 18 and over living in private households in the Continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was completed during the period of April 19-22, 2007.

The other survey mentioned here also was conducted by ORC and involved 1,019 adults (507 men and 512 women) aged 18 and over living in private households in the Continental United States. Interviewing for the earlier survey was completed during the period of September 15-18, 2005. Both surveys were weighted by four variables: age, sex, geographic region and race to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total population. The margin of error for both surveys at the 95 percent confidence level is plus or minus 3 percentage points. Smaller sub-groups in either survey will have larger error margins.

ABOUT CSI AND 40MPG.ORG

The nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org) is a think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. CSI has conducted more than 15 major surveys since 2003 on energy and auto issues, including vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, consumer demand for hybrids/other highly-fuel efficient vehicles, global warming and renewable energy. CSI is the parent organization of 40MPG.org (http://www.40MPG.org) and the Hybrid Owners of America (http://www.HybridOwnersofAmerica.org).

CONTACT: Ailis Aaron Wolf, (703) 276-3265 or aaaron@hastingsgroup.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A streaming audio recording of the news event will be available on the Web as of 7 p.m. ET on June 6, 2007 at http://www.40MPG.org and http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org.