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cars don't cause pollution, toasters do.

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  • bill carr
    http://tinyurl.com/2bkca (Link is to the NYT) DETROIT, June 24 - A new series of whimsical public service announcements from the Environmental Protection
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 29, 2004
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      http://tinyurl.com/2bkca (Link is to the NYT)

      DETROIT, June 24 - A new series of whimsical public
      service announcements from the Environmental
      Protection Agency are lampooning the notion that cars
      can be made more energy efficient while the ads
      encourage conservation at home.

      A top E.P.A. official said the $1 million campaign was
      developed by a branch of the agency that specializes
      in energy-saving home appliances and was not intended
      to send a message about cars. But it comes at a time
      of heightened awareness of oil consumption and energy
      security, and despite the fact that many analysts say
      consumers can make their greatest single contribution
      to air quality when choosing a car.

      It also comes less than two months after an E.P.A.
      report emphasized how much more fuel efficient new
      cars and trucks were in the mid-1980's. The E.P.A.'s
      transportation division was not consulted for the new
      public service announcements, the E.P.A. official,
      Brian McLean, said, despite the fact that a car plays
      a starring role.

      In a 60-second version of the public service
      announcement, a woman named Suzanne says she is
      concerned about pollution and global warming, but
      laments the homegrown efforts of her husband, Mark, to
      cut emissions from the family car. Mark - nerdy,
      pudgy, harried - is shown rigging up their car, first
      with a sail, then a microwave contraption using huge
      satellite dishes, and finally a helium tank with a
      bulbous hose.

      "The E.P.A. says the energy we use in our home can
      cause twice the greenhouse gases of a car," Suzanne
      says, adding that she has started buying energy-saving
      household products.

      Buying a cleaner car, or say, a smaller sport utility
      vehicle, does not appear to be a viable alternative
      for reducing emissions. The ad ends with a shot of
      Mark pushing the car down a hill and Suzanne saying,
      "He still marches to the beat of a different drum." At
      one point, the car fills with helium, Mark starts
      talking like Mickey Mouse and two men in the backseat
      shake their heads and say "Genius!"

      Indeed, as the E.P.A. says, energy use at home can
      cause twice the emissions of a single car. But most
      families have more than one car and emit roughly the
      same amount of global warming gases in their vehicles
      as in their homes, said David Friedman, senior policy
      analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an
      environmental research and advocacy group.

      "With a car, you can cut your fuel use in half by
      using a hybrid," he said. "You're not likely to cut
      your electricity use in half by using more efficient

      Mr. McLean, the E.P.A.'s director of the Office of
      Atmospheric Programs, said, "We were just trying to
      give people a benchmark."

      "If you have two cars," he added, "they would be

      The ads were made by the New York office of Foote,
      Cone & Belding, part of the Interpublic Group of
      Companies. They promote the 12-year-old Energy Star
      program, which allows manufacturers to earn a special
      label if their products meet stringent emissions

      Mr. Friedman and other environmentalists praise the
      program, which is part of Mr. McLean's office. But
      they wonder why new public service announcements set
      up saving energy at home in opposition to saving
      energy on the road.

      "The practical way to stop pollution is for the Bush
      administration to advance energy savings for homes
      without pushing the auto and oil industry's line that
      we can't improve pollution from cars," said Daniel
      Becker, director for the global-warming and energy
      program at the Sierra Club.

      Mr. McLean said "many people are not aware that the
      things they do in their homes could have an effect on

      "Its intent was to say, 'Did you know this?' " he

      He said that the campaign was reviewed by various
      officials at E.P.A., but added: "There wasn't a lot of
      consultation with transportation on it. They don't
      consult with us about how to promote homes."

      In a shorter version of the ad, Mark's car sails down
      the road - literally - while a narrator says, "there
      is a practical way to reduce air pollution." Viewers
      are then directed to a Web site that lists energy-
      efficient furnaces, computers and dishwashers - in
      fact, just about everything but cars.

      The government does provide detailed information on
      emissions that come from the tailpipes of specific
      vehicle models, at the Web site www.fueleconomy.gov.
      For instance, most versions of the Ford Expedition
      emit more than 12 tons of global warming gases each
      year, in average driving conditions, according to the
      site. By contrast, the smaller Ford Escape S.U.V.

      In late April, the latest version of the E.P.A.'s
      annual fuel economy trends report showed that it would
      not take innovative technology - not to mention sails
      or microwaves - to improve vehicle efficiency. In
      fact, new cars and trucks would be 20 percent more
      fuel efficient if they simply had not become so much
      heavier and faster since the mid-1980's, the report's
      executive summary stated.

      The ads underscore how far Washington has diverged
      from California and Canada on auto regulations. Last
      week, California released an initial draft of a plan
      to cut automotive emissions of global warming gases by
      nearly 30 percent, a strategy sharply different from
      that of the Bush administration, which has withdrawn
      from a global accord on curbing such emissions.

      California, which has long battled smog, has the
      unique authority to set its own air quality rules, and
      other states are permitted to follow its air

      Canada also appears poised for tougher auto
      regulations. This week, ahead of national elections
      next week, the Conservative Party joined a call by
      other parties for a 25 percent increase in Canada's
      fuel economy standards, which now mirror those of the
      United States.

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