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Obama calls for cars to get 54.5 mpg

The Obama administration has upped the ante on federal fuel economy standards, calling for cars and light trucks to get up to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson joined Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to announce the administration's proposal to set stronger fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for cars and light trucks made between 2017 and 2025.

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Administration officials contend the higher mileage standards will reduce oil consumption by 4 billion barrels and cut 2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution over the lifetimes of the vehicles sold in those years.  But they said it also should save Americans $6,600 in fuel costs over the lifetime of a 2025 model year vehicle, or a net savigns of $4,400 after factoring in projected higher costs for more fuel-efficient vehicles.  For more, go here.

The announcement, which builds on the administration's earlier push to get the nation's vehicle fleet to 35.5 mpg by 2016, drew cheers from environmentalists and raspberries from auto dealers.

Sarah Bucci of Environment Maryland, for instance, predicted that in Maryland alone, the fuel-economy standards would save each family $365 on average, and nationally would create nearly 500,000 new jobs.

The National Auto Dealers Association, meanwhile, warned that the rule could add more than $3,200 to the cost of a new vehicle, which could depress sales and slow fleet turnover, thereby delaying the environmental gains forecast. The group also argued that the regulation would most discourage sales of the industry's most popular, if least fuel-efficient vehicles, such as SUVs and other trucks and vans.

Cars, SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks account for nearly 60 percent of transportation-related petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions, according to EPA.

(Traffic in Baltimore, 2010 Baltimore Sun photo by Amy Davis)

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