Obama's auto efficiency plan a "constructive step"
- 20 May 2009
US President Barack Obama yesterday unveiled his plan to increase US auto efficiency standards.
New rules on emission and mileage would require five percent increases in fuel efficiency each year from 2012 through 2016. By 2016, average fuel economy would be 35.5 miles per gallon - or 39mpg for cars and 30mpg for trucks.
The current average is 27.5mpg for cars and 24mpg for trucks.
Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group, welcomed the announcement: "This is a constructive step forwards and begins to close the gap between the US and Europe and Japan. However there may yet be more transformational moves that the administration can make towards shifting automotives away from fossil fuels and towards electrification."
In his remarks yesterday, President Barack Obama said the plan would benefit consumers, the economy, and the environment alike: "The fact is, everyone wins: Consumers pay less for fuel, which means less money going overseas and more money to save or spend here at home. The economy as a whole runs more efficiently by using less oil and producing less pollution. And companies like those here today have new incentives to create the technologies and the jobs that will provide smarter ways to power our vehicles."
State leaders welcome the plan
The plan is a big win for state governments, like California and Michigan, which have been spearheading climate leadership at the sub-national level and whose governors were both at the White House to welcome the announcement.
California, a longstanding member of The Climate Group, has long pushed for more stringent climate policy, including fuel efficiency standards. The Obama Administration earlier this year ordered a review of the state's request to set its own tailpipe emissions standard, which the previous administration denied.
While the California waiver request remains under consideration by the EPA, California has already agreed to defer to the proposed national standard. This would mean automakers would have to contend with a clear single standard, rather than a patchwork of state-led regulations.
Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm has been working closely with The Climate Group to bring green jobs to the American mid-west. Speaking at an event organised by The Climate Group in April, Governor Granholm said: "Building a low carbon economy that reduces our nation's dependence on foreign oil can be a source of increased innovation and can mean thousands and thousands of new energy jobs for Michigan and the Midwest."