It’s official: US to double fuel economy, reduce emissions by 2025

This is huge.

On August 28, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced final rules on fuel economy and emissions for U.S. cars and light trucks in model years 2017 to 2025.

As expected, the rules will require a fleet average of 54.5 mpg by 2025, effectively doubling current fuel economy. Tailpipe emissions of carbon pollution will be reduced to 163 grams/mile, or about half of today’s average vehicle.

Building on a bipartisan consensus for cleaner transportation, the new rules are supported by U.S. automakers, suppliers, auto workers, state and federal regulators and environmental groups.

Since when did government regulation get so popular? When it delivers widespread benefits which cycle through the economy and the environment:

  • 570,000 jobs created, producing high-mileage low emission vehicles and components
  • Consumers save $8,000 over the life of their vehicles, a total of $1.7 trillion in savings
  • Carbon pollution reduced by the equivalent of 85 million cars per year
  • U.S. oil imports reduced by 1/3, freeing up billions to invest in the Midwest instead of the Mideast.

UAW President Bob King is a strong supporter of the new rules, saying they “cap off a remarkable set of achievements by President Obama to save the domestic auto industry and put it on a path to long-term prosperity. ”

Lowering the total cost of driving will make automobiles more affordable and expand the market for new vehicles. The standards will also provide certainty for manufacturers in planning their investments and creating jobs in the auto industry as they add more fuel-saving technology to their vehicles. Bringing this additional content to market requires more engineers and more factory workers, expanding employment in the industry.

The auto industry’s hometown newspaper, the Detroit Free Press, quotes reaction from NRDC President Francis Beinecke:

These new standards‚will reduce carbon pollution that drives climate change. That’s a win for everybody around the world‚Äîand a very big win for future generations.

The Christian Science Monitor cites NWF President Larry Schweiger.

“As a onetime General Motors mechanic, I’m proud to see Americans already proving we have what it takes to lead in a prosperous clean energy future. Taken together, new fuel economy standards for cars and trucks are the biggest step America has ever taken to cut carbon pollution and reduce our oil dependence, critical for wildlife which faces both the global threat of climate change and the direct impacts of oil spills and pollution.”

Auto manufacturers are ready to invest and innovate to meet the new standards, says Mike Stanton, president and CEO of Global Automakers, representing 13 international manufactures with production, design and/or sales facilities in the U.S.:

“This program is important to our country and our members have accepted the challenge‚The one national fuel economy program streamlines the regulatory processes and allows automakers to efficiently work toward meeting the nation’s environmental and energy objectives. The program also provides our members with the needed flexibility and lead-time to design and build a full range of advanced technology vehicles that consumers will want to buy.”

The Automotive News reports that Erika Nielsen, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for auto supplier BorgWarner, sees a growing market for the company’s technology:

Automakers are looking for solutions that provide better fuel economy and reduce emissions while maintaining performance. That means new opportunities for our company, because our turbochargers, variable cam timing, dual clutch transmission modules and other powertrain technologies can help provide cleaner vehicles while maintaining or improving performance.

Bottom line: We’ll all be able to drive farther on a gallon of gas, with less emissions coming from the tailpipes of our vehicles. The new technology required will create American jobs, result in reduced oil imports and a significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions.

Sounds like a plan – and a winning strategy for consumers, the environment and the economy.

Roger Kerson is a Michigan-based media consultant for labor unions and environmental organizations. He was formerly the director of public relations at the United Auto Workers.


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