Obama To Announce Tougher Fuel Standards

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Barack, California, Cars, Energy, Gas, Obama

This is a pretty big stake in the ground, because they’ll be using California’s standards…the toughest in the nation.

No doubt you’ll be hearing that this is bad for business, but that’s what they said about seat belts, airbags and every other time CAFE standards were raised. And I think we’re all fairly aware that the car companies who’ve prospered are the ones who offered the highest fuel efficiency standards the earliest.

From NY Times:

President Obama will announce as early as Tuesday that he will combine that state’s emissions rules with the existing corporate average fuel economy standard overseen by the Transportation Department, the officials said. As a result, cars and light trucks sold in the United States will be roughly 30 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016.

The White House would not divulge details, but environmental advocates and industry officials briefed on the program said that the president would grant California’s longstanding request to implement its tailpipe standards. Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia have said they intend to apply the same rules. That request had been denied by the Bush administration but has been under review by top Obama administration officials since January.

Yet Mr. Obama is planning to go further, effectively issuing a single rule for both fuel economy and emissions that matches California’s strictest-in-the-nation standards.

Under the new standard, the new combined fuel efficiency standard for cars and light trucks will be about 35 miles per gallon by 2016, roughly in line with the California rule.

In my mind this is a smart move for many reasons, not the least of which is you diffuse the emissions standards argument immediately. Yes, it will upset states rights’ advocates, but how does it makes sense that a state should be able to determine whether or not certain pollution levels are acceptable or how much mileage cars can have in their locale?

In other words, there are some things that must be mandated by the federal government, and this is one of them. Our long term strategic interests, both for the environment and our dependency on foreign oil, rely on one set of standards across the board.

More as it develops…


This entry was posted on Monday, May 18th, 2009 and is filed under Barack, California, Cars, Energy, Gas, Obama. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Obama To Announce Tougher Fuel Standards”

  1. kranky kritter Says:

    how does it makes sense that a state should be able to determine whether or not certain pollution levels are acceptable or how much mileage cars can have in their locale?

    In other words, there are some things that must be mandated by the federal government, and this is one of them.

    Which things fit in each of these categories is supposed to be proscribed by the constitution. If any given action is not enumerated by the constitution, it is supposed to be reserved for the states. If we the people want to change that, it’s our right. We are supposed to amend the constitution to do so.

  2. wj Says:

    What seems most significant about this announcement is that the mileage standard is not just being applied to the “fleet” overall. Rather, if I have understood correctly, there are apparently going to be standards for each class of vehicle. That is likely to bring a much bigger shift than anything else.

  3. kranky kritter Says:

    WJ, if that’s so, then the article linked above definitely does not say so. In fact, in the only directly on point section I saw (granted, I skimmed) , it says:

    To meet the new federal standards, auto companies will have to drastically change their product lineups in a relatively short time.

    The companies have declined so far to comment on the costs involved in meeting a fleet standard of 35 miles a gallon. For starters, the automakers will probably have to sharply reduce the number of low-mileage models, like pickup trucks and large sedans.

    Anyone have any info on how the new math is going to work? Obviously, if the average is calculated simply by averaging across various models without regard to how many of each model are sold, then the possibility exists that the new reported averages will sound good but achieve nothing. Suppose the car companies reduce their SUVs and pickups to one model each while offering way more models of small high efficiency vehicles. If folks keep buying the SUVs, trucks, and crossovers instead of little efficient 4-cylinder models that barely hold 4 people, nothing will be achieved.

    At this point, what’s not been explained to me is what mechanism is going to make folks choose small efficient cars in greater numbers. Please, everyone, take the time to understand that if they just average the fuel efficiency of the various models, this number is meaningless unless an equal number of each is sold.

    Let’s also not forget that the popularity of SUVs from the get-go was fostered by a loophole which allowed SUV’s to be classified as light trucks instead of passenger vehicles. In essence, categories were used to obscure the truth of what was going on with regard to efficiency of new vehicles.

  4. Tully Says:

    Anyone have any info on how the new math is going to work?

    Sure. You get the answer you want with fairy diust and rainbow unicorn farts.

  5. Donklephant » Blog Archive » VW’s CAFE Standards: 235 MPG Says:

    […] example, but I can’t help but think car companies can easily hit the 35 MPG mileage standards Obama is about to lay out if the following is possible for a street ready […]

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