When President Trump traveled to Michigan last week to announce that his administration will reevaluate (and almost certainly weaken) a key environmental achievement of the past decade —new fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for cars and light trucks — he alleged that “industry-killing regulations” had contributed to a loss of jobs in the U.S. automobile sector. The truth is, however, that there is no factual basis for the claim that stricter standards have killed jobs. There is, however, abundant evidence that these regulations have saved Americans billions of dollars at the pump, bolstered U.S. energy independence, fostered automotive innovation, and led to major reductions in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
If EVs are critical to significantly reducing or eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles over the next three decades – and I believe they are – we need to think about ways to appeal to desires and interests not only of consumers, but of public and private institutions with a stake in our energy and transportation systems. In short, we should extol EVs not for their low-carbon virtue, but as a way to create and to satisfy demand in both the electricity and transportation sectors.
American consumers have been enjoying Christmas since July – that is, July 2014, when the average price for all grades of gasoline peaked at US$3.75 per gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration. Since then, prices have declined substantially, as every motorist knows: to $2.90 by Thanksgiving 2014 and to $2.14 as we approach the end of 2015. In many parts of the country, the price of regular gasoline is well below $2 per gallon today.
On November 30, as the Paris international climate conference was getting underway, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a long-overdue update of Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements. Originally established in 2005 and then greatly expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the RFS mandates increasing use of ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels in America's cars and trucks.
The first North American roads were foot trails- trails that widened, with the centuries, to accommodate horses and then teams. A horse and wagon traveled at an average speed of four miles per hour. Our average travel speed has changed a bit since then, yet many of those same trails- made to offer the least resistance possible for animals two-legged and four- now carry millions of Americans to their destinations. Builders, policy experts, and others who plan and study transportation systems must literally build the future on top of the past.
A new piece on Energy Institute Research Professor John DeCicco's blog, Cars and Climate, explores the flow of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide during the life cycle of biofuels. It is excerpted below.
"After all that's been written about the pros and cons of biofuels over the years, it's fair to ask whether there's anything left to say. It turns out that there is, and a new insight comes from evaluating what actually happens on the earth, that is, on the land where the plants used to make biofuels are grown.
Energy Institute Research Professor John DeCicco was featured in a Marketplace Morning Report piece titled "Your electric car may be a carbon polluter." The piece highlighted a working paper that will be featured in this fall's Conference on Transportation, Economics, Energy and the Environment (more info on the conference is viewable here).
Energy Institute research professor John DeCicco, an energy and transportation expert, was featured on WEMU's The Green Room, along with UMEI faculty affiliate Jonathan Levine and postdoctoral fellow Louis Merlin, both of Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
The University of Michigan today opened Mcity, the world's first controlled environment specifically designed to test the potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies that will lead the way to mass-market driverless cars.