‘A Monumental Day,’ Says LaHood: ‘First Meaningful Update in Decades’
Proclaiming “a monumental day for the American people” and for the U.S. automobile industry, Obama administration officials and supporters celebrated new car and light truck fuel efficiency regulations yesterday. The NHTSA-EPA regulation, with a target fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, is now the law of the land. The rule takes effect with the 2017 model year.
“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” President Obama said in a statement. “This historic agreement builds on the progress we’ve already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption.
“By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today,” Obama said. “It’ll strengthen our nation’s energy security, it’s good for middle class families and it will help create an economy built to last.”
Obama announced the proposed standard in July 2011, joined by Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volvo, and the United Auto Workers.
The now-final rules follow already-released standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2012-2016 requiring 35.5 mpg by 2016.
Rules for heavy vehicles enacted last year come into effect for model year 2014.
The new regulations include incentives for alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles, including the various types of hybrid drives, with details on “incentive multipliers” still being worked out. Links to EPA facts sheets and the 1,230-page final rule itself may be found here.
“The Administration’s combined fuel economy efforts represent the first meaningful update to fuel efficiency standards in decades,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on his blog. “By 2025, the average car will achieve a fuel economy performance equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon, nearly double that of cars on the road today.”
“This will help American families keep more of their hard-earned paychecks into their pockets and spend less at the pump while still preserving the features and vehicle choices consumers want.” The administration says that the standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion, and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.
“The American automobile industry wins as well,” LaHood said. “We have given American manufacturers the regulatory certainties they need to build efficient cars of all types.”
“The car or light truck you’ll be driving in 2025 will not be your grandfather’s Oldsmobile,” LaHood said.
“The fuel efficiency standards the administration finalized today are another example of how we protect the environment and strengthen the economy at the same time,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “Innovation and economic growth are already reinvigorating the auto industry and the thousands of businesses that supply automakers as they create and produce the efficient vehicles of tomorrow,” Jackson said.
“California welcomes this eagerly anticipated federal initiative to dramatically reduce global warming emissions, strengthen American energy security, and save consumers money at the pump,” said California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols.
‘Cleaner, Safer, Better Future’
“These new standards mean we’ll create the cars we need to reach a cleaner, safer, better future,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “We’ll get cleaner air and we’ll reduce our reliance on imported oil, and we’ll do it while we save Americans more than $8,000 at the gas pump.”
“EDTA is encouraged by the recognition… of the importance of electric drive in achieving the nation’s fuel economy goals and of its ‘game-changing’ potential,” said Electric Drive Transportation Association president Brian Wynne. “Battery, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell electric drive technologies are critical tools in reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gas emissions while bolstering the economy.”
Heritage Foundation Not Happy
“This is truly a watershed moment,” said Michelle Robinson, director of the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Twenty years from now we’ll be looking back on this as the day we chose innovation over stagnation. These standards will protect consumers from high gas prices, curb global warming pollution, cut our oil use, and create new jobs in the American auto industry and around the nation.”
The BlueGreen Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council said that the standards could spur creation of 570,000 U.S. jobs by 2030, and that “the country will save nearly 23 billion of gasoline in 2030 alone, resulting in $54 billion in net savings to consumers.”
“Everybody is a winner today,” said NRDC president Frances Beinecke.
“Our nation will be more secure, our environment will be cleaner, and consumers will have more money in their pockets as a result of the new rule,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Clean Energy Program. She also cited the 570,000 new jobs figure.
“This national effort to boost gas mileage to 54.5-mpg is a key step in tackling our dangerous demand for oil,” said Benjamin Lowe, spokesman for the veterans group Operation Free. We currently send more than a billion dollars a day to other countries to buy oil. Too much of that money ends up in the hands of people who don’t share our values or have our best interests in mind. And every time the price of a barrel of crude oil goes up by $5, Iran gets an additional $7.9 billion a year.”
“We applaud this forward-looking policy for providing a boost to the long-term security and economy of the United States.”
Among the naysayers? The Heritage Foundation, which says the rule will raise prices, reduce consumer choice, and result in consumers’ keeping their old cars longer. “These new fuel standards effectively foist a management decision on all automakers,” blogger Nicolas Loris wrote yesterday.
Source: Administration and other releases