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Group Advocates Better Fuel Economy

DETROIT (May 15, 2001) -- Slashing demand for gasoline is the only responsible way to fight soaring U.S. pump prices, and automakers can do just that while putting more money in the pockets of consumers, according to a leading environmental group.

"Stabilizing gas pump prices is not about increasing supply of a finite resource," the Union of Concerned Scientists, a research-based group with more than 50,000 members across America, said in a statement. "Fuel-efficient cars and trucks, which can easily be achieved with existing technologies, conserve oil without sacrifice. In fact, they mean more disposable income for average Americans, not oil industry executives."

The recent surge in gas prices has unleashed a growing chorus of calls for an increase in U.S. oil supplies, including President George W. Bush's comments last week about the need to expand the country's oil refining capacity, Bloomberg News reported.

The UCS, citing the environmental and public health risks inherent in drilling more oil wells and building more refineries, said "America cannot simply drill and refine its way to lower gas prices."

Voicing strong support for legislation that would close a loophole in federal law that allows sport utility vehicles and light trucks to get fewer miles per gallon than passenger cars -- it said the measure would save as much gasoline as is produced by 12 refineries by 2010, according to the report.

"This means less pollution from the refining and distribution of gas, saving Americans 75,000 tons of smog-forming pollution annually," the report said.

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