Friday, February 5, 2010

Gallons per Mile Bill Clears New York Senate Committee

[Update April 21: The GPM bill passed the New York Senate yesterday as part of larger Earth Day legislative package. See this post for details. The original bill, described below, required that dealers provide "gallons per 1,000 miles" for each vehicle they sold. The new bill requires that dealership display a chart translating mpg to "gallon per 1,000 miles".]

The New York Senate Environmental Conservation Committee has passed a new fuel efficiency bill that includes a "gallons per mile" requirement. The bill requires that vehicle manufacturers list "gallons per 1,000 miles" for city, highway, and combined driving.

The bill was championed by Senator Daniel Squadron, who laid out his rationale in this December article, and received broad support from environmental groups:
"Urging the passage of Senator Squadron’s bill were the New York League of Conservation Voters, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter, and Senator Antoine Thompson, the Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee."
The blog All over Albany lays out the case in more detail.

We believe this low cost change for presenting fuel efficiency information is of great value to consumers and the environment. We applaud Senator Squadron for endorsing it.

Although we advocated for "gallons per 100 miles" and "gallons per 10,000 miles" as useful standards in the supplement to the Science article, we note the benefits of "gallons per 1,000 miles":
  1. 1,000 miles is roughly what the average American drives in a month, so it is a meaningful number
  2. It allows easy estimation of yearly consumption (multiply by 10, roughly)
  3. It avoids the problem of seemingly small differences in efficiency that occurs when comparing "gallons per 100 miles"
Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres made the case for gallon per 1,000 miles in this Why Not? column for Forbes magazine.

Here is an excerpt from the bill (the full bill can be found here):


An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to requiring automobile dealers display a fuel economy label on all new vehicles

To require that new passenger motor vehicles sold in New York State post a "gallons-per-mile fuel impact statement."

Adds a new section 19-1104 to the environmental conservation law to require vehicle manufacturers to display a gallons per thousand miles fuel impact statement. Such statement shall set forth the average number of gallons the vehicle is expected to use when traveling a distance of one thousand miles of city mileage, highway mileage and combined city and highway mileage. The bill provides for a civil fine of not more than $100 per vehicle to be imposed on manufacturers for a violation of this section.

Gallons per miles driven is a much more useful means of measuring fuel efficiency than the current miles per gallon standard. It enables a vehicle purchaser to more easily compare the fuel efficiency between various models of automobiles. This bill, which would require manufacturers to display the average gallons per one thousand city, highway and combined miles, will allow consumers to know accurately at a glance the cost of operating a vehicle over one thousand miles. Additionally, this allows environmentally conscious consumers to identify the relative environmental effect of different vehicles. Encouraging consumers to buy more fuel efficient vehicles can help save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy security and oil dependence costs, and increase energy sustainability.