In the future, all cars will be like Knight Rider, maybe. (Photo by Pop Culture Geek.)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our new fuel-efficiency standards, at long last.

The Obama Administration today finalized groundbreaking standards that will increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. When combined with previous standards set by this Administration, this move will nearly double the fuel efficiency of those vehicles compared to new vehicles currently on our roads. In total, the Administration’s national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. …

President 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, as well as the United Auto Workers. The State of California and other key stakeholders also supported the announcement and were integral in developing this national program.

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Sounds good! Bear in mind that only two cars currently meet the standard: the Chevy Volt and a thing called a “Ford Focus BEV FWD” that I’ve never heard of.

Environmental groups are pleased. Says the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune, “President Obama has taken the most significant action by any President in history to move our country off oil and slash dangerous, climate disrupting pollution that threatens our children’s future.” There you go. Carmakers are happy, enviros are happy. Who could be against this?

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Well, oil companies, obviously. And their friend, Willard “Mitt” Romney (which is what I’m calling him now).

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has opposed the standards, and his campaign on Tuesday called them extreme and said they would drive up the price of new cars. Any savings at the pump would be wiped out by rising costs of cars, the campaign said.

As ThinkProgress notes, this is a reversal of Romney’s previous position.

Romney once supported fuel efficiency, by adopting California standards setting limits on carbon pollution from vehicles as Massachusetts governor. In 2002, he proposed tax breaks for fuel efficient cars and an excise tax for gas-guzzlers.

A few years later, Romney blasted achievable 35 MPG by 2016 standards as an “anvil” weighing down the industry. But since the auto industry bridge loans, and measures like CAFE standards, automakers have bounced back, with fuel efficient cars as a major driver of the 2012 increase in sales. The industry has created 139,000 jobs since 2009, with its strongest sales in the last quarter.

You know who else supported higher fuel-economy standards, leading the industry toward compact cars, decades before anyone else? The one-time president of American Motors Corp., a gentleman named George Romney.

Today’s announcement is a great step forward on reducing carbon dioxide pollution, volatile organic compounds, and other smog-producers. 2025 can’t get here fast enough.