Tue, 7 Dec 1999

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY COALITION
315 Circle Avenue, #2; Takoma Park, MD 20912-4836
301-270-2258; fax: 301-891-2866; kbossong@cais.com
 
MEDIA BACKGROUNDER #3
Third in a Series of Analyses of the Presidential Candidates "Views on Sustainable Energy"
 

SURVEY FINDS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES' VIEWS VARY WIDELY ON AUTO FUEL EFFICIENCY
AND TRANSPORTATION ISSUES
 
Bradley Only Candidate Supporting Stronger CAFE Standards
 
For Release:
Wednesday, December 8, 1999                       
9:00 a.m. (eastern time)            
 
Contact:
Henry Griggs (Communications Consortium) 202-326-8714
Ken Bossong (SUN DAY Campaign) 301-270-2258
Michelle Robinson (Union of Concerned Scientists) 202-332-0900
 
Washington DC -- The Sustainable Energy Coalition today released a side-by-
side comparison of the major presidential candidates' views on improving
automobile fuel efficiency and other transportation issues.  For the most part,
the candidates' views are expressed in their own words as provided in their
campaign materials, media and other public statements, and preliminary
responses to a survey sponsored by the member groups of the Sustainable
Energy Coalition and 150 other organizations nationwide.
 
Automobile Fuel Efficiency Standards
 
Among the Democrats, former Senator Bill Bradley has expressed his support
for strengthening Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards
"over time" and extending those now covering passenger cars to include light
trucks and Sport Utility Vehicles as well. During the recent Senate debate on
a rider to the Transportation Appropriations bill that would continue the five-
year moratorium that blocks tighter CAFE standards, Bradley declared it to
be "a particularly offensive rider" and urged his former colleagues in the
Senate to reject it (and 40 Senators did subsequently vote to oppose the rider).
 
When the CAFE rider was ultimately included in the transportation bill, Vice
President Al Gore reportedly recommended to President Clinton that he veto
the measure but the White House ignored his recommendation. Previously,
Gore had resisted calls by the environmental community to press for stricter
CAFE standards opting instead to "join with the Big Three automakers to
create the Public/Private Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles
[designed] to help industry efforts to triple the fuel-efficiency of today's
vehicles."
 
Among the Republicans, publisher Steve Forbes recently has stated his
opposition generally to "old Soviet-style command-and-control" regulations
and earlier to setting higher CAFE standards specifically.  Ambassador Alan
Keyes has charged that "CAFE kills 2,000 - 4,000 people a year by making
larger, safer cars less affordable; it's an assault on the family car and should
be abolished." Even though the Houston area this year has experienced more
severe smog problems than Los Angeles, recording eight of the ten highest
ozone pollution peaks in the country, Governor George Bush has opted to
sidestep the question of CAFE standards arguing that it is a federal issue.
 
Senator Orrin Hatch voted against a resolution that would have directed the
Senate conferees for the Transportation Appropriations bill to oppose the
CAFE-freeze rider.  Senator John McCain was not present for that vote but
earlier chose to withhold his name from a Senate letter to the White House
urging it to resist the CAFE rider. However, McCain has reportedly
expressed an interest in holding hearings next year in the Senate Commerce,
Science, and Transportation Committee which he chairs on the issue of
increasing CAFE standards. Former Reagan Administration official Gary
Bauer has offered no position statements on CAFE or related transportation
issues.
 
Among third party aspirants, Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan has
expressed his general opposition in the past to tightening CAFE standards
while Natural Law Party candidate John Hagelin says he supports raising
CAFE standards to a combined fleet average of at least 42 mpg by 2010.
 
Other Transportation Options
 
Generally, the Democratic presidential candidates have been more
forthcoming than the Republicans in offering proposals to address other
transportation issues.  Gore has called for "investing in mass transit and light
rail and [for] helping communities develop alternatives to clogged highways
[including] walkable, bikeable neighborhoods" as part of a broader initiative
addressing the problem of suburban sprawl.  Bradley wants "to get car
owners to get old clunkers off the road ... and to encourage the production
and use of cleaner cars" as well as "improve mobility for everyone but in less
environmentally damaging ways."
 
Hatch acknowledges that "automobiles are a major source of urban pollution"
and has proposed tax credits -- rather than federal mandates -- for the
purchase of alternative fuels "such as hydrogen, natural gas, propane,
methanol, and electricity" as well as for the purchase of electric and
alternative fuel vehicles. McCain has also expressed support for developing
alternative fuels to reduce pollution (although he opposes continuing the
federal ethanol tax credit) and has called for strengthening emissions controls
on all gasoline or diesel-powered engines, including cars and trucks. Bush
notes that he would "support cleaner gasoline standards across the country"
while Forbes and Keyes have offered no further transportation policy views.
 
While Buchanan has been silent on other transportation issues, Hagelin
believes that "basic research and development funding on energy alternatives
such as fuel cells is key to a clean energy future for the nation."
 
Public Opinion
 
A public opinion survey of 1,000+ registered voters conducted in September
1998 for the Sustainable Energy Coalition by Research/Strategy/Management
of Rockville, Maryland found that more than 80% of registered voters favored
raising fuel efficiency standards for both cars and light trucks, including
Sport Utility Vehicles.  By similar margins, respondents also favored increased use
of electric vehicles and cars powered by natural gas.  The findings echoed
those of a similar survey released by the Sustainable Energy Coalition in
January 1996.
 
                                                  # # #
 
* This backgrounder is the third in a series on energy policy issues that will
be released over the next two months.  The first (9 pages) detailed the
candidates' views on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol while the second
(6 pages) examined their views on federal support for ethanol production;
both can be faxed or e-mailed upon request.
 
A more detailed, 5-page overview of the candidates' views on CAFE and
other transportation issues along with the questions and responses to the
public opinion survey commissioned by the Sustainable Energy Coalition can
be faxed or e-mailed upon request.
 
Future backgrounders will include responses provided to a survey on these
issues sent to all the Democratic and Republican as well as major third party
candidates by the Coalition and signed by 185 organizations and businesses
from 35 states. A copy of the survey and list of signers is available upon
request.
 
The Sustainable Energy Coalition is a coalition of 34 national business,
environmental, consumer, and energy policy organizations founded in 1992 to
promote increased use of energy-efficient and renewable energy
technologies.  Preparation of this backgrounder was done as part of the
Coalition's contribution to planning for Earth Day 2000.
 
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SUSTAINABLE ENERGY COALITION
315 Circle Avenue, #2; Takoma Park, MD 20912-4836
301-270-2258; fax: 301-891-2866; kbossong@cais.com
 

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: CAFE AND TRANSPORTATION
 
Responses and Position Statements
 

1.) Do you support raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards
for new cars, Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), and other light trucks to a
combined fleet average of at least 42 mpg by the year 2010?
 
BAUER: no stated position
 

BRADLEY:  [The House CAFE rider is] "a particularly offensive rider that
... has had the effect of allowing loopholes in the current law to mushroom. In
particular, it has created a perverse reduction in fuel efficiency due to the
classification of Sports Utility Vehicles as light trucks.  There is no one who
doesn't recognize that these popular family cars are not sold as work vehicles
but are in fact a heavier version of family cars.  There is no reason why they
should be treated differently than any other automobile.  ... I hope that my
former colleagues in the Senate will support the bipartisan effort to reject the
House language in conference." (source: September 13, 1999 letter from
former Senator Bill Bradley to US PIRG's Executive Director, Gene
Karpinsky, commenting on the Gorton-Feinstein-Bryan Clean Car Resolution.)
 
"Bill Bradley supports extension of passenger car fuel economy standards to
light trucks and Sport Utility Vehicles.  Mobile sources can and should do
more to reduce their contribution to air pollution.  Thanks to the requirements
of the Clean Air Act and CAFE, today's cars are far cleaner and more fuel
efficient than those of the past.  CAFE standards have been important in
achieving that goal and should continue to improve over time.  People are
driving more and keeping their cars much longer, thus unintentionally eroding
much of the environmental benefit of the reforms we have made in the last 20
years."  (source: campaign staff response to Sustainable Energy Coalition
presidential candidates' survey - October 4, 1999)
 

BUCHANAN:  Opposes CAFE standards of 45 mpg for new cars and 35
mpg for new light trucks by 2005 (source: 1996 Energy America survey)
 

BUSH: Bush spokeswoman Linda Edwards said changing the standard for
fuel efficiency is a federal issue, but that the Texas Natural Resources
Conservation Commission has taken steps to strengthen state environmental
standards. (source: Associated Press)
 

FORBES: Opposes CAFE standards of 45 mpg for new cars and 35 mpg for
new light trucks by 2005 (source: 1996 Energy America survey)
 
"'A New Birth of Freedom' offers a conservative, free market vision of
environmental stewardship. An environmental vision that is consistent with
our values, that relies less on the old Soviet-style command-and-control
policies, and more on the spirit of our New Economy -- individual freedom,
personal responsibility, technological innovation, market based incentives, and
real public accountability." (source: posted on Forbes 2000 web site on August
20, 1999)
 

GORE: Vice President Al Gore has recommended a veto of this bill because
of this [House Transportation Appropriation bill] rider language, but according
to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the Clinton administration ignored
his suggestion. (source: "Environmental Network News," October 1, 1999)
 

HAGELIN:  "Yes" (source: October 20 response to Sustainable Energy
Coalition's presidential candidates' survey)
 

HATCH: Voted against measure directing Senate conferees to oppose a
CAFE-freeze rider on the FY'00 Transportation Appropriations bill.
 

KEYES: "CAFE kills 2,000 - 4,000 people a year by making larger, safer cars
less affordable. It's an assault on the family car and should be abolished."
(source: 1996 Energy America survey)
 

MCCAIN: Missed vote on measure directing Senate conferees to oppose a
CAFE-freeze rider on the FY'00 Transportation Appropriations bill; opted to
not sign an earlier letter to the White House urging it to oppose the
CAFE-freeze rider.
 
McCain has expressed interest in holding hearings sometime in mid-year 2000
in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which he
chairs, on increasing CAFE standards following preparation of a study by the
General Accounting Office. (source: Rob Taylor, staff counsel - Senate
Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; conversation December 7, 1999)
 

2.) What other proposals are you putting forth to address issues associated
with transportation?
 
BAUER: no stated position
 

BRADLEY: "We need new strategies to get car owners to get old clunkers
off the road since they contribute disproportionately to pollution and to
encourage the production and use of cleaner cars.  Americans want and
expect the freedom to be able to meet their transportation needs.  We need to
support efforts that improve mobility for everyone but do so in less
environmentally damaging ways.  Bill Bradley supports additional efforts to
ensure that all Americans breathe healthful air ... including tighter pollution
standards for cars and SUVs."  (source: campaign staff response to
Sustainable Energy Coalition presidential candidates' survey - October 4, 1999)
 
"I'm betting that the American public is prepared for some straight talk about
the challenges that we face, whether it's why there's a legitimate public
interest in building cleaner cars, or cleaning up the older, dirtier power
plants
that have gone unregulated." (source: statement to League of Conservation
Voters dinner as quoted by "Environment News Service," October 21, 1999)
 

BUCHANAN: no stated position
 

BUSH: "I do support cleaner gasoline standards across the country. ...
[Regarding the Tier 2 standards for automobile gasoline], I think we ought to
look at a national standard for lower sulfide for gasoline, absolutely."
(source:
Bush statement during December 2 debate among Republican presidential
candidates in New Hampshire)
 

GORE: "[S]prawl is harder on families than just the long drive to work and
back; it means working families must sink thousands of dollars into extra
commuting costs. ... In the 1998 election, more than 200 communities
discussed -- and the vast majority adopted -- measures to manage sprawl and
enhance local livability. The time has come to learn from this citizen ingenuity
and apply it to a bigger canvas. ... [W]e are proposing the single highest
investment in public transit in history -- $6.1 billion to help communities
develop alternatives to building more clogged highways. We are also
proposing a record $1.6 billion for state and local efforts to reduce air
pollution
and ease traffic congestion." (source: speech to the American Institute of
Architects, January 11, 1999)
 
"[W]e must ... ease traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and
work to develop cleaner transportation alternatives. .. We must continue to
work closely with industry in a spirit of collaboration, not conflict; forging
creative new public-private partnerships in areas such as fuel-efficiency [and]
greenhouse as emissions." (source: <www.algore2000.com>, printed July 7, 1999)
 
"By investing in mass transit and light rail, and by helping communities
develop alternatives to clogged highways, Al Gore believes we can reduce
traffic and air pollution, and build the stronger sense of community that
walkable, bikeable neighborhoods foster." (source: Gore 2000 news release,
October 21, 1999)
 
In his book ["Earth in the Balance'] seven years ago, Gore advocated the end
of the internal combustion engine within 25 years. (source: Jim Gerstenzang,
"Los Angeles Times," October 21, 1999)
 
"Al Gore has been a national leader in addressing ... how to build more livable
communities -- places where young and old can walk, bike, and play together;
.... places where we can spend less time in traffic and more time with our
families. ... Al Gore is working to help communities meet this challenge -- not
through a top-down federal role, but by giving communities more of the tools
and resources they need to preserve green spaces, ease traffic congestion,
promote regional cooperation, improve schools, and enhance economic
competitiveness - so communities can grow according to their own local
values." (source: <www.algore2000.com>, printed November 10, 1999)
 
"Al Gore joined with the Big Three automakers to create the Public/Private
Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles -- to help industry efforts to
triple the fuel-efficiency of today's vehicles without increasing cost or
reducing quality and safety .... [and] to develop a new generation of fuel- and
energy-efficient vehicles." (source: <www.algore2000.com>, printed November 11,
1999)
 

HAGELIN: "The Natural Law Party believes that basic research and
development funding on energy alternatives such as fuel cells is key to a clean
energy future for the nation." (source: October 20 response to Sustainable
Energy Coalition's presidential candidates' survey)
 

HATCH: "Automobiles are a major source of urban pollution. Past efforts
concerning alternative fuels have failed because they have been too heavy on
mandates and too weak on incentives. If consumers are to begin buying
alternative fuel vehicles, two elements must be in place: first, the price for
vehicles and their fuel must be right; second, the consumer must feel
confident that the infrastructure is in place with refueling stations widely
available. [I proposed meeting] these goals without mandates." (source:
<www.senate.gov/~hatch> follow link to "statements," May 11, 1999)
 
The "Alternative Fuels Promotion Act" (S.1003) creates a 50-cent/gallon tax
credit for the purchase of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen, natural gas,
propane, methanol, and electricity. It also provides a tax credit of 10% of the
purchase price for alternative fuel vehicles, up to $4,000, and an additional
$5,000 credit toward any electric vehicle with a range of over 100 miles.
(source: May 12, 1999 press release, office of Senator Orrin Hatch)
 

KEYES: no stated position
 

MCCAIN: McCain supports the following principles regarding America's
environment and natural resources: Encourage development of alternative
fuels to reduce pollution; Strengthen emission controls on all gasoline or
diesel-powered engines, including cars and trucks. (source: Project Vote
Smart, <www.vote-smart.org>, July 2, 1998)
 

Public Opinion
 
In September 1998, the Sustainable Energy Coalition commissioned a public
opinion survey of 1,000+ registered voters that was conducted by
Research/Strategy/Management of Rockville, Maryland. Among the
questions posed and responses received are the following:
 
1.) Various ideas have been offered for reducing our dependency on foreign
oil. I'm going to read you a few, and for each one, please tell me if you
strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose it.
 
A.) Raise fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and sports utility vehicles.
 
Strongly Favor  49%
Somewhat Favor 31%
Somewhat Oppose 12%
Strongly Oppose   7%
Don't Know/Refused   1%
 
B.) Increase the use of electric vehicles
 
Strongly Favor  37%
Somewhat Favor 41%
Somewhat Oppose 12%
Strongly Oppose   7%
Don't Know/Refused   3%
 
C.) Increase the use of natural gas for transportation
 
Strongly Favor  39%
Somewhat Favor 44%
Somewhat Oppose 10%
Strongly Oppose   4%
Don't Know/Refused   3%
 
2.) One response to the 1973 energy crisis was to introduce fuel economy
standards for cars and light trucks.  Light truck standards were set lower than
cars, because at the time they were sold mainly to farmers and construction
workers, who haul big loads and drive of-road in their work,  Minivans hand
not been invested yet and sport/utility vehicles or SUVs were small, no frills
jeeps.  Today, minivans and SUVs are treated like trucks for fuel economy
standards, but they are marketed and used mainly as passenger vehicles and
seldom go off-road or haul big loads that are work-related.  As a result of the
popularity of light trucks, minivans, and SUVs, the average fuel economy for
new vehicles in 1998 is lower than the average fuel economy for new
vehicles ten years ago.
 
FIRST STATEMENT: Some people say the automobile industry has and
should use the technology to improve fuel economy standards for light trucks,
minivans, and SUVs and help reduce pollution and our dependency on foreign oil.
 
SECOND STATEMENT: The automobile makers say that we should keep
the lower fuel economy standards because they are only supplying what the
public wants.
 
How about you, do you favor or oppose increasing the fuel economy
standards for light trucks, minivans, and SUVs? Would that be strongly just
somewhat (favor/oppose)?
 
Strongly Favor  58%
Somewhat Favor 23%
Somewhat Oppose   8%
Strongly Oppose    9%
Don't Know/Refused   2%
 
In addition, in January 1996, the Sustainable Energy Coalition released a
public opinion survey of 1,000+ registered voters that was also conducted by
Research/Strategy/Management of Rockville, Maryland. Among the
questions posed and responses received is the following:
 
1.) A number of options have been suggested for reducing oil imports. Please
tell me whether you favor or oppose improving the fuel efficiency of cars and
light trucks. And would that be strongly (favor/oppose) or just somewhat
(favor/oppose).
 
Strongly Favor  75%
Somewhat Favor 19%
Somewhat Oppose   3%
Strongly Oppose   2%
Don't Know/Refused   1%