On May 19, President Barack Obama unveiled new standards to regulate fuel economy and greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and light trucks.
The bottom line: New automobiles will have to get better gas mileage
- Current standards: 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and 24 mpg for light trucks
- Starting in 2012, fuel efficiency will rise more than 5 percent each year
- New standards for 2016: 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks — an overall average of about 35.5 mpg
The environmental benefits:
- Will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program
- Will prevent 900 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions
- Will be like taking 177 million of today’s cars off the road, or shutting down 194 coal-fired power plants
Fans of the plan:
- The major automakers, because they now have certainty and one clear set of regulations to follow
- The major environmental groups, because the federal government is actually doing something to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions
- California and 13 other states, because they have long wanted tougher auto emissions standards
Obama sings the plan’s praises:
In the past, an agreement such as this would have been considered impossible. That is why this announcement is so important, for it represents not only a change in policy in Washington, but the harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington. … And at a time of historic crisis in our auto industry, this rule provides the clear certainty that will allow these companies to plan for a future in which they are building the cars of the 21st century.
Find out more:
- Kate Sheppard reports that the new rules are the administration’s first real step to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.
- The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says it’s happy with the new rules.
- Michael Moynihan argues that fuel-economy rules are among the least precise tools for addressing climate change.