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Madison leaders prioritize fuel efficient vehicles while federal government reviews standards

Madison leaders prioritize fuel efficient vehicles while federal government reviews standards

Fuel efficient city fleet vehicles

Three of Madison's fuel efficient vehicles are displayed outside of the City-County Building. 

Madison-area leaders on Monday urged the Trump administration to maintain federal clean car standards, which they argue protect the environment, keep communities healthier and save taxpayer money.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has directed the agency to review fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks for model years 2021 through 2025. Automakers said it would be too difficult and expensive to adhere to fuel economy goals established during the Obama administration and that there could be a loss of jobs.

Rolling back the Obama-era standards would be detrimental to not only Dane County and Madison, but the state, Sierra Club John Muir Chapter director Bill Davis argued at a press conference Monday.

“These clean car standards reduce pollution, which protect our health,” Davis said.  

As of Dec. 15, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration has made an effort to reverse at least 60 environmental rules. While the federal government is reviewing environmental policy changes, Dane County and the city of Madison are actively working to make their fleets more fuel efficient.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi called the fuel standard review “backward.”

“We see no benefit to anyone other than the oil companies,” Parisi said.

The county replaces old vehicles with hybrids, which use two types of power, or with vehicles that use compressed natural gas produced by the landfill. Parisi said right now, 75 county vehicles run on compressed natural gas and 13 of those are snowplows.

In addition to health and environmental benefits, Parisi said using fuel efficient vehicles saves taxpayers money that can be reinvested in the local economy.

“The dollars not spent on gas are dollars that stay in our community and in the pockets of the people,” Parisi said.

The city’s Fleet Services superintendent Mahanth Joishy said Madison is adding fuel efficient vehicles to its fleet and currently has about 10. Metro Transit also plans to add three battery-electric buses to its fleet by 2019.

Mayor Paul Soglin set a goal of making 50 percent of Metro’s buses zero emission by 2035.

“To have a federal government which has not acknowledged the challenges for our planet does not mean we have to recede into the lowest standards in regard to the health of the people we serve,” Soglin said. “The city of Madison will continue and continue unwavering in its plans to add more and more fuel-efficient vehicles to our fleet.”

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