Michigan, Missouri Support Strong Fuel Efficiency Standards

New polling shows that any effort to weaken successful clean car standards would be unpopular in car country.

Residents of Michigan and Missouri support strong federal standards that require large improvements in the fuel economy of new cars and light trucks. Recent surveys conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Michigan and by jointly Kiley & Company and American Viewpoint for Missouri and commissioned by NRDC find that a strong majority of Michiganders and Missourians support standards that require U.S. automobiles to increase from 25 miles per gallon (mpg) today to 40 mpg in year 2025.

The 40-mpg level is the real-world driving equivalent of the original 54.5 mpg standards for 2025 established by the federal government in 2012. These standards, however, are under attack by the Trump Administration. Weakening the standards would be a bad deal for America. Weaker standards increase our dependence on oil, put thousands of American jobs at risk and pollute the air for our children and future generations.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner summarize the Michigan survey as follows:

  • Strong support for the current planned increases on fuel efficiency standards. More than seven out of 10 Michiganders favor a proposal requiring that cars must get 40 miles per gallon by 2025; there is intensity behind the support, as 47 percent strongly favor the plan. Support is both broad and deep, as Democrats (92 percent), Independents (69 percent), and Republicans (51 percent) alike support the proposal. 
  • No appetite exists for weakening standards. Seventy-four percent of respondents believe that increases to fuel efficiency standards should be targeted at least 40 mpg or be increased beyond 40 mpg; just 21 percent support a decrease in the standards.
  • Support for strong fuel efficiency standards remains high after a balanced debate on the proposal.  After hearing information in favor of and in opposition to increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles, support holds strong at 67 percent... 
  • Protecting children’s health and creating new jobs and innovation in Michigan stand out as the most compelling reasons to support increase fuel efficiency standards. ...They like that the standards will protect the environment and health of future generations; they also like that this proposal will encourage the development of new jobs, technologies, and innovations for auto manufacturers in Michigan.

Similar results were reported by Kiley & Company and American Viewpoint for the Missouri survey:

There is widespread support for the upcoming increase in fuel efficiency standards.

  • 73% of Missourians favor the requirement that by 2025 all automobiles that are manufactured must get 40 miles per gallon, on average.
  • Nearly six-in-ten Republicans (59%-34%) favor the requirement, with Independents (71%-26%) and Democrats (92%-5%) favoring it by even wider margins.

Very few Missourians want to weaken these standards.

  • Only 22% of respondents believe that the 40 MPG requirement should be lowered, with 40% saying that it should stay at 40 MPG and 20% who believe the requirement should be increased.

After a balanced set of arguments, respondents continue to overwhelmingly support the new standard.

  • Each respondent heard 4 arguments in favor of the new fuel standard and 4 arguments in opposition to them.  After hearing these arguments, nearly two-thirds (64%) favor the new standard and only 33% oppose it. 

The need for a clean and healthy environment for future generations is a compelling reason to support the new standards.

  • At least two-thirds of respondents saw each of the supportive argument as convincing, with the health of future generations, investment in new technologies that will create jobs and saving consumers at the pump all compelling reasons to support the new 40 MPG requirement.

The robust survey results clearly demonstrate that Michiganders and Missourians want strong fuel efficiency standards to stay in place through 2025. These Americans understand how strong standards are important for safeguarding the environment and public health. Standards also drive innovation that can grow jobs. Weakening the standards would put these important benefits at risk. 

About the Authors

Luke Tonachel

Director, Clean Vehicles and Fuels Project, Energy & Transportation program

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