HUCE Special Lecture: Margo Oge

April 27, 2015 – "Driving the Future: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars" with Margo Oge, Vice Chairman of the Board of Deltawing Technologies, and former director of the Office of Transportation Air Quality at the US Environmental Protection AgencyIn Driving the Future: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars (Arcade Publishing, April 7, 2015), Margo Oge envisions a future of clean, intelligent vehicles with lighter frames and alternative power trains, such as plug in electric and fuel cell vehicles that produce zero emissions and average 100+ mpg. The cars of tomorrow will have more in common with our smart phones than with the vehicles we drive today. With electronic architectures more like that of airplanes, they will be smarter and safer, will park themselves, and will network with other vehicles on the road to drive themselves, save fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These innovative vehicles will be necessary to combat climate change as the transportation sector accounts for one-third the global greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

Oge also provides the ultimate insider's account of the partnership between federal agencies, California and car manufacturers that led to President Obama's historic 2012 deal targeting greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles. The deal will double the fuel efficiency of cars by 2025, avoid burning 12 billion barrels of oil and prevent the creation of 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, all while saving the consumer $1.7 trillion. She describes the efforts of a wide-ranging group of people— from a staunchly Republican Texas hedge fund millionaire to a former California public school teacher to the Georgetown lawyer who prepared the winning argument for a Supreme Court decision on greenhouse gases, to dedicated EPA engineers in Ann Arbor who play critical roles in the first national climate action in the US.

In large part because of strengthening clean air regulations, Americans are seeing more innovation and faster adoption of advanced technologies. Today, we can already buy several models that achieve 100 mpg, and there are seventy-six alternative powertrain vehicle models in showrooms. Yet, to avert the worst impact of climate change by 2050, Oge claims that it will be necessary for cars and light trucks to average 180 mpg by 2050—a bold but not impossible target.

To pursue this goal more broadly, Oge also takes the reader through the convergence of macro global trends, advanced power train technologies, energy sources and social trends that will continue to drive car innovation over the next forty years and be every bit as transformative as those wrought by Karl Benz and Henry Ford.


Margo Oge is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Deltawing Technologies, a company bringing a fuel-efficient racing car from the track to the road. Ms. Oge also serves on the boards of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Academy of Sciences for Energy and Environment, the International Council for Clean Transportation and the Alliance for Climate Education. Additionally, she is a member of the Department of Energy's Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Advisory Committee and the National Academies of Science Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program.

Margo Oge served at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 32 years, the last 18 of which she directed the Office of Transportation Air Quality. While there, she was a chief architect of some of the most important achievements in reducing transportation-related air pollution. As a result of these rules, emissions from cars, trucks, buses, off-road vehicles, locomotives and marine vessels—as well as gasoline and diesel fuel—were reduced up to 99 percent. These regulations prevent over 40,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of respiratory illnesses each year.

Ms. Oge led the Obama Administration's landmark 2012 Clean Air Act deal with automakers, the nation's first action targeting greenhouse gases. This regulation will double the fuel efficiency of automakers' fleets to 54.5 mpg and cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025. In the New York Times, Tom Friedman praised the new rules as the "Big Deal" that redeemed the administration's previous inaction.

In Driving the Future: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars, Ms. Oge provides an insider's account of the science, politics, policy, legal battles and, most importantly, the people who made possible this historic regulation. She then describes the technological, social, economic and regulatory terrain in which even larger reductions in greenhouse gases could be achieved. Finally, she lays out the future of technology that will enable a global market for super-efficient, zero carbon-emitting vehicles and other sustainable personal mobility options. According to Jerry Brown, Governor of California, "This is the story of how hard it is to combat climate change—and also how imaginative and determined leaders can get it done."

Ms. Oge holds an MS in Engineering from University of Massachusetts-Lowell. She has received presidential awards for her work at the EPA from President Bill Clinton and President George W Bush.