Provision in highway bill would require gas-mileage reality check

The U.S. EPA would have to use more realistic conditions when testing new vehicle models for gas-mileage figures under an amendment offered by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), backed by green and consumer groups, and successfully attached to the Senate highway bill. Currently, the agency’s methods include evaluating vehicles at an average of 48 miles per hour, and do not account for variables like air-conditioner use, extra cargo, or stop-and-go traffic. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, those unrealistic methods could be costing consumers $20 billion a year for unexpected gas expenses. If the provision makes it into law, mileage estimates could decrease by as much as 30 percent. Says auto club AAA’s Chris Plaushin of the EPA’s current tests, “If you drove that way, you would get great gas mileage, but there would be an angry line of people behind you.”