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E-M:/ New ads on fuel economy

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

 > CONTACTS:      Jon Coifman or Eben Burnham-Snyder, 202/289-6868 (NRDC)
 >      Michelle Mulkey, 202/822-5200, 415/987-7377 (Detroit Project)
 > New Campaign Slams Detroit, Washington as U.S. Gas Mileage Hits 22-Year Low
 > NRDC and the Detroit Project Rip Automakers for Broken Fuel-Saving Pledges
 > TV Ads Spotlight Mideast Oil Dependence as Senate Starts Energy Security 
 > WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 7, 2003)--The heated debate over America> '> s 
dependence on Middle East oil returns to the airwaves this week with a 
provocative new ad campaign challenging both Detroit car companies and 
Washington policy makers to deliver fuel-efficient cars and SUVs.
 > The ads are a joint venture of NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense 
Council) and the Detroit Project, an advocacy group co-founded by author 
and columnist Arianna Huffington. With humor and polish, they turn a glossy 
car commercial on its head--showcasing the high-mileage, high-performance 
cars and trucks Detroit could build today, but won> '> t. Viewers can see 
the spots online at <http://www.nrdc.org/breakthechain/> (click "View Ad" 
 > The ads hit at a critical juncture in the nation> '> s post-war 
political agenda. They follow last Friday> '> s news from the Environmental 
Protection Agency that U.S. fuel economy reached a 22-year low in 2002, and 
come just as the Senate takes up controversial new energy legislation. The 
campaign also appears at the same time that American companies are 
abandoning voluntary fuel-saving pledges.
 > "America needs a line of cars that can get us to work in the morning 
without sending us to war in the afternoon," said Huffington. "If today> '> 
s vehicles averaged 40 mpg, we would save more oil than we import each year 
from the Persian Gulf. We have the technology to start fixing the problem, 
but the Big Three in Detroit and their friends in Congress and the White 
House are blocking the road."
 > Car companies have opposed every serious effort to improve safety and 
fuel economy, according to NRDC, while their voluntary efforts have come to 
nothing. Last month Ford Motor Company abandoned a much-touted promise to 
increase the efficiency of its SUVs by 25 percent, and scaled back plans 
for a fuel-saving hybrid SUV. That same week, General Motors began 
stressing caveats and fine print undercutting widely advertised hybrid 
plans announced by the company just a few months ago.
 > "Detroit is waving a white flag instead of an American flag. They have 
surrendered the battle for energy security," said NRDC Attorney Robert F. 
Kennedy, Jr. "Car companies are blaming American consumers for a scandal 
that starts in Detroit and ends in Washington. Every car and truck in 
America should be safe and have the most efficient technology possible. 
What could be more patriotic?"
 > -- over --
 > America cannot drill its way out of the problem. The U.S. has just 3 
percent of world oil reserves, compared with 65 percent beneath the Persian 
Gulf. Experts say controversial proposals to drill for oil in the pristine 
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would expand reserves by a mere one third 
of one percent.
 > We import more than half our daily oil from some of the most politically 
unstable places in the world, in turn sending send more than $20 billion 
every year just to the Gulf region. And our oil problems aren> '> t just 
the Middle East: Recently, crises in Venezuela and unrest in Nigeria each 
caused price spikes and supply disruptions in the United States.
 > "Whether you were for or against the war in Iraq, we can all agree that 
it> '> s time to make sure our military and economic strength are never 
held captive to the politics of petroleum," Huffington said. "We need cars 
and trucks that meet our transportation and safety needs without 
sacrificing our freedom, security or prosperity."
 > NRDC and the Detroit Project say carmakers are using "checkbook 
diplomacy" to keep better solutions off the road. Since 1990 the auto 
industry has made more than $80 million in federal campaign contributions, 
according to Federal Election Commission reports.>
 > "Detroit has been fighting safety and fuel economy standards for 30 
years, all the while promising voluntary solutions that never arrive. It> 
'> s time for sensible standards that put existing technology on the road 
in every car, truck and SUV," Kennedy said. "Kicking our oil addiction 
means more money in our pockets, more jobs in our economy, and more freedom 
for America to stand tall in the world."
 > Passenger cars are required to average 27.5 mpg while SUVs, pickups and 
minivans classified as light trucks must get just 20.7 mpg. For years, 
lawmakers have exempted SUVs and light trucks from automotive safety, 
pollution, and fuel economy rules, and even given them special tax breaks. 
All these moves stifle innovation where it is needed most. As a result, 
major advances have bypassed half of the new vehicles sold in America.
 > While American automakers are standing still, their Japanese competitors 
are pressing ahead. Last month, Toyota introduced the second generation of 
its pioneering hybrid system in the 2004 Prius, a five-passenger car that 
is bigger, faster and cleaner than today> '> s model and gets 15 percent 
better mileage (an estimated 55 mpg). Toyota will introduce the system in a 
Lexus SUV next year, promising V-8 performance and the mileage of a 
4-cylinder compact. The company expects to sell 300,000 hybrids a year 
worldwide by 2005.
 > U.S. automakers and the Bush administration say we should wait for the 
emerging technology of hydrogen-powered fuel cells instead of using 
existing solutions to meet stronger fuel economy standards today.
 > While fuel cells are a highly promising answer in the long run, experts 
agree it will be at least two decades before they are available in large 
enough numbers to make a dent in oil demand. In the meantime, Americans 
will keep buying 17 million new cars and trucks each year. NRDC calculates 
that a 40 mpg fuel economy standard would save nearly 25 times more oil by 
2020 than even the most aggressive fuel cell launch schedule.
 > "Fuel cells are a terrific long-term solution," said Kennedy. "But we 
have an energy security problem now, and we need solutions now."
 > The television ads will air in markets across the country, including 
Detroit, Washington, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, 
Philadelphia, and Tampa-St. Petersburg. A print version is appearing in USA 
Today on May 7. The spots were directed by Scott Burns, co-creator of the > 
'> Got Milk?> '>  campaign.
 > For more information, visit www.nrdc.org <http://www.nrdc.org> or 
www.thedetroitproject.com <http://www.thedetroitproject.com>

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
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