The Obama administration today released details of its national suite of auto standards that would mandate increased fuel economy and impose the first-ever greenhouse gas standard on the nation's cars and trucks.
The proposals are a joint effort by U.S. EPA and the Transportation Department and would go into effect with model year 2012. The standards would push corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards to a fleetwide average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, four years ahead of the schedule Congress laid out in a 2007 energy law. The carbon dioxide limit under the plan -- which will apply to passenger cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles -- would reach an average of 250 grams per mile per vehicle in 2016.
"This marks a significant advance in our effort to protect health and the environment," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who was joined by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the White House to release the details. The White House said the proposal will prevent 950 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions during the four-year rule.
The rules provide automakers with flexibility to meet the new standards during the initial model years of the rule, Jackson said.
Today's announcement fills in the details of Obama's May decision to blend the legal authority the Supreme Court granted EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in its 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision with DOT's right to regulate fuel economy under the CAFE program, while still preserving California's right to regulate air pollution under the Clean Air Act.
"This is truly a green-letter day for President Obama's administration," LaHood said. "The increases in fuel economy and the reductions in greenhouse gases we are proposing today would bring about a new era in automotive history. These proposed standards would help consumers save money at the gas pump, help the environment and decrease our dependence on oil -- all while ensuring that consumers still have a full range of vehicle choices."
DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency tasked with writing CAFE rules, and EPA will need to finalize the efficiency rules by March 31, 2010, to meet the statutory requirement that CAFE standards be completed 18 months before the next model year begins. Model years begin Oct. 1.
The text of the proposals is expected to be available on the Web sites of EPA and DOT later this afternoon.
President Obama, speaking today at a General Motors Co. assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, said the national standards would help automakers rebound by removing the uncertainty that had surrounded state attempts to impose their own set of auto emissions standards.
"This action will give auto companies some long-overdue clarity, stability and predictability," Obama said, according to prepared remarks provided by the White House. "In the past, an agreement like this would have been impossible -- but this time was different. Unlikely allies came together -- automakers, the UAW, environmental advocates, Democrats and Republicans, California and more than a dozen other states -- all of them pledging to set aside the quarrels of the past for the sake of the future."