PORTLAND (AP) – As tourists prepare to gas up their cars and travel to Maine for the Memorial Day weekend, an environmental group complained Thursday that short-sighted policies are causing consumers to pay twice what they should for gas at the pump.

A report issued by Environment Maine Research and Policy Center took the Bush administration to task for failing to take action to reduce oil demand and protect consumers from skyrocketing gas prices.

The group said the current average fuel economy of 20.8 miles per gallon could be improved to 40 miles per gallon.

“Consumers are at the mercy of volatile gasoline prices and our environment is at the mercy of global warming because of America’s over-dependence on oil,” said Matthew Davis of Environment Maine.

Davis said part of the problem is the Bush administration’s opposition to upgraded fuel economy standards.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has said that phasing in a 40-gallon standard over 10 years would reduce transportation oil consumption by a third by 2020, saving consumers $16 billion.

The group called for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to take action since the federal government has not by adopting cleaner car rules that would put more hybrid cars on the road.

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