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Historic New Fuel Economy Standards a Win-Win-Win for the Environment, Consumers, and the Industry

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April 1, 2010

The Ecology Center applauds the final fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission rules announced by the Obama administration today.  The rules represent a first-ever joint rulemaking between the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  They also meet the requirements previously adopted by the State of California and by other states that adopted the California standards.   

“The new unified rules are a major step forward after nearly 30 years of inaction and political impasse, representing a break-through in the design of a policy that can reduce energy use, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance the economic vitality of America’s automobile industry,” stated Mike Garfield, Director of the Ecology Center.  “This unified national program allows automobile manufacturers to meet a single set of standards, while ensuring major environmental and consumer benefits.” 

The EPA estimates reductions of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions of 960 million metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles sold during 2012-2016, and savings of 1.8 billion barrels of oil. In total, the combined standards will reduce GHG emissions from the U.S. light-duty fleet by approximately 21 percent by 2030. 

The Ecology Center has been a long-time advocate for strong fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks that both protect the environment and ensure a viable and healthy domestic automobile industry.   The new rules help to achieve that critical balance by combining the strengths of the different programs, and unifying the objectives under a single national regulatory program.   

“In short, the rules adopt the tough environmental stringency of California, the smarter and fairer structure of the federal CAFE rules under NHTSA, and the additional objective of ensuring the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by EPA--it’s a win-win-win for the environment, consumers, and the automobile industry,” stated Charles Griffith, the Ecology Center’s Clean Vehicles and Fuels Director.   

One key aspect of the structure of the new rules is its size-based approach for determining the fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards.  Using size (or a vehicle’s “footprint”) to base the standards ensures that fuel-economy improvements will be made across the broad spectrum of vehicle types and sizes that consumers choose, rather than just through downsizing the vehicles they make.  The old approach used a simple fleet average approach, which tended to disadvantage domestic manufacturers with higher market share in the larger vehicle segments.  The new structure ensures that all manufacturers will play a role in improving the fuel economy of their vehicles. 

For more information about the rules, visit: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations/420f10014.htm