Thursday, September 17, 2009

U.S. seeks 5 percent annual fuel-economy gains through 2016

The U.S. government is planning new fuel regulations through 2016.

The Obama administration today proposed gasoline mileage and greenhouse-gas pollution standards for new vehicles for model years 2012 to 2015, filling in the blanks for manufacturers en route to a 35.5 mpg national target in 2016.

The Transportation Department and EPA proposal calls for fuel economy to increase by about 5 percent each year, starting from an average of 27.3 mpg for the 2011 model year, the agencies said in a statement.


The average car buyer would save more than $3,000 in fuel costs over the life of a vehicle, the statement said.

The first-ever national greenhouse-gas standard also would require model-year 2016 vehicles to meet combined average emission levels of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile.

This proposal would reduce emissions by about 950 million metric tons, the statement said.

More regulatory stability

“This action will give our auto companies some long overdue clarity, stability and predictability,” President Barack Obama said today at General Motors Co.'s Lordstown, Ohio, plant. “For too long, our auto companies faced uncertain and conflicting fuel-economy standards. That made it difficult for you to plan down the road.”

The 1,200-page proposal would provide national, coordinated standards for both fuel-economy and pollution.

The standards also would be sufficiently stringent to preclude efforts by California and 13 other states to adopt their own tougher guidelines, as they did during the Bush administration.

“The proposal provides manufacturers with a roadmap for meeting significant increases for model years 2012-2016,” David McCurdy, head of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, consisting of 11 car and light-truck manufacturers, said in a statement.

In May, Obama announced the 35.5 mpg requirement by 2016, four years faster than required by federal law. The plan was supported by the automobile industry, California and other states, and environmental groups.

Broad support voiced

GM today echoed its support.

“Greater consistency and certainty among a variety of regulations will help a new GM execute its current product plan centered on new technologies and more highly fuel-efficient and quality cars and trucks,” said GM spokesman Greg Martin.

Environmental groups today also praised the plan.

“Taking fuel economy out of the 1970s and into the 21st century is a big step,” said Ann Mesnikoff, director of the Sierra Club's green transportation campaign.

Interest groups and individuals have 60 days to submit comments on the proposal. The administration is required by law to publish final rules by spring.

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