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In an effort to protect Maine's economy and environment, officials call for new clean car standards

Maine Representative Lori Gramlich, Adam Lee of Lee Auto Malls, and climate experts said "now is the time" for new standards.

MAINE, USA — Multiple stakeholders in Maine's green transportation industry held a virtual conversation on Wednesday as they called for new clean car standards. The event was sponsored by Maine Conservation Voters.

The group said it was time for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Biden Administration to release new fuel efficiency standards for car models set to roll out between 2027-2035.

Speakers included Representative Lori Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach; Adam Lee, chairman of Lee Auto Malls; Dr. Rebecca Boulos of the Maine Public Health Association; and Kathleen Meril, of Maine Conservation Voters.

“Moving swiftly to a new round of EPA vehicle pollution limits is a win-win for Maine," Gramlich, who is the chair of the legislature's Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said. 

Not only will those limits help our environment, she added, but it will also save Mainers money at the gas pump.

Lee said mandating auto manufacturers to increase fuel efficiency standards would capitalize on positive "momentum" in recent years. “They can keep making these large SUVs get better and better fuel economy if they’re really pushed.”

President Biden authorized the new fuel efficiency standards two years ago, which require new 2024 and 2025 models to have an 8 percent fuel efficiency increase annually, and a 10 percent increase for 2026 models, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety.

During the virtual conference, Boulos said while having more fuel-efficient cars on the road will help Mainer's wallets, it will also reduce air pollution in the state.

According to the Maine Climate Action Plan, 50 percent of the state's carbon emissions stem from transportation.

Lee said the group wanted to start these calls for action now because it can take a while to get labor unions, manufacturers, and environmentalists on the same page. 

He also acknowledged the price of new gas-powered and electric cars is expensive for most Mainers. But, fuel efficiency is not a driver of those costs as new cars are equipped with all kinds of new technology.

Gramlich added she is confident these new standards can create innovation in the auto industry which will drive the cost down for new vehicles in the future. 

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