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Looking back at a fruitful year, and vowing to keep fighting in 2017

It’s that time of year again. Time for all of us to look back at the past 12 months, and to look ahead to the coming year. Thinking about 2016, well, it’s been quite a ride.

Fuel Freedom made great progress on a number of fronts. We kicked off the year with the establishment of the High Octane Low Carbon Alliance, led by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. The alliance was formed to organize a set of powerful allies to ensure that U.S. transportation policies preserve a place for affordable vehicles powered by liquid fuels to complement the evolution of electric or other technologies.

The most dominant single item on our 2016 policy agenda was influencing the review of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for 2022-2025. That seems like a long time from now, but car manufacturers are not far off from designing the vehicles that will be introduced to the market at that time. The agencies committed to an updated assessment — a 2-year process called the Midterm Evaluation — because there is still time to change course if the standards, set 4 years ago, no longer make sense.

The first step in the Midterm Evaluation process was a Technical Assessment Report released in July. Fuel Freedom submitted extensive feedback to the report. The main objective was to share our view that the agencies should focus more on the internal combustion engines that will dominate roadways for decades, and to turn their attention to the fuels that power those vehicles. Out of thousands of comments, ours was one of only a handful of non-automaker comments that was cited by EPA in its proposed final determination just issued in December.

To support our Washington agenda, we established a whole new area of our website: the Policy CAFE. We filled the Policy CAFE with content to ford-f150-detroitfamiliarize our allies and the general public with the fuel economy standards, what’s possible, and why it matters for every American. Supported by a complementary outreach and communications campaign, the Policy CAFE has engaged an enthusiastic group of new advocates for fuel freedom. More than 10,500 Americans signed our petition in support of cleaner, high-octane fuels to ensure that the vehicle mix continues to include cars and trucks Americans like to drive and can afford.

This year we also continued our ambitious strategic research agenda, including a few key highlights we funded this year: Carnegie Mellon University is nearing completion of an investigation of the potential to use Pennsylvania’s abundant natural gas reserves in light-duty transportation. Another study showed lower smog-forming emissions by using ethanol in flex-fuel vehicles in California and Utah. And we are in the final stages of an economic and environmental analysis of vehicle and fuel pathways to reach U.S. and California climate goals in light-duty transportation. Preliminary results show that we cannot foreclose any avenues to success — especially the most affordable ones.

We spent the year engaged on many other productive fronts; I can’t possibly list them all. So I’d like to briefly turn to 2017. Wow. The election was literally a seismic shift on many levels, not least of which is the political and policy landscape in our nation’s capital. Everyone will adjust as the dust settles. And you can be confident that Fuel Freedom will be at the forefront of the charge to push for our agenda. We have always been focused on the many benefits of fuel choice that span the political spectrum. Fuel Freedom is an American cause, not a partisan one. Particular emphasis of any single communication might focus on a particular topic. However, we fundamentally remain focused on rallying around a message that we all can agree on. It’s in our tagline: Cheaper. Cleaner. American-made. Cheaper means affordable vehicles and promoting fuel competition to keep fuel prices down. Cleaner means better air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions. American-made means using more of our abundant domestic energy resources to reduce oil imports and create U.S. jobs.

What’s not to like about that?

 

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