Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Saving Money, Sustaining Jobs: What New Fuel Efficiency Rules Mean for Virginia

The Obama administration has announced new fuel efficiency standards for cars & trucks that will save consumers billions at the gas pump. But what many people don't realize is those standards will also sustain thousands of jobs in states like Virginia:
At least 155,000 auto industry jobs now exist in the United States devoted to fuel-efficient vehicle technologies, with that number likely to grow, according to a joint report released today by the UAW and two environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council National Wildlife Federation.

The new study found that more than 300 companies in 43 states and the District of Columbia are currently involved in manufacturing tied directly to clean and fuel efficient technologies. That number is likely to expand even more in the wake of recently announced fuel economy standards that would require a fleet average of 54.5 m.p.g. by 2025.
By 2030, the new fuel efficiency rules will save America 3.4 million barrels of oil per day. If you believe estimates that Virginia has 130 million barrels of oil offshore, that means the new standards will save more oil every 38 days than we could possibly drill for off our beaches:
Jim Lyon, senior vice president of conservation programs at the National Wildlife Federation, said moving to cleaner vehicles will not only lessen dependence on foreign oil – but lessen the pressure to drill for oil domestically in sensitive areas. "The best place to drill for oil is under the hoods of cars and trucks," Lyon said.
Here's what I find most interesting about this jobs report from a Virginia perspective. All we hear about from politicians in Richmond is that Virginia's a coal state, we can't ever possibly hope to burn one lump less of coal than we do now, etc. But according to the most recently available numbers in 2006, the coal industry only employs 5,262 people in Virginia.

Yet according to this report, 11 facilities supplying clean, fuel efficient vehicle technologies employ 2,373 people in Virginia. How often do you hear politicians like Gov. Bob McDonnell talking about how important it is to buy hybrid cars to support those jobs?

Read the full report at NRDC.org & learn more about the new fuel efficiency standards at EPA.gov.

Note: I work for the National Wildlife Federation for my day job, but my blog posts are my own.
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