The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its 1,000-page environmental impact study on new fuel economy rules and the final form of those rules could be in place by the middle of next month. When NHTSA announced a draft of the new CAFE regulations last spring, it drew criticism from all sides. The rules went beyond what was mandated by Congress last December, but also contained some very controversial elements. The requirements would be based on the vehicle's footprint (the area between the wheels), meaning that vehicles with a larger wheelbase or track would have a lower standard to meet.
The study indicates that the new regulations will save 19.5 billion gallons of fuel through the end of the next decade. However it also indicates a very small impact on the environment over the next century. The expected change in sea level is only expected to be reduced by 0.11 cm and the temperature is only expected to be cut by 0.013 degrees celcius. Nonetheless, automakers are not happy with the rules because of the inconsistencies. Still, proposals from the initial draft seem unlikely to be significantly changed. At this point, there is a 30-day comment period before the new corporate average fuel economy rules are finalized.

[Source: Detroit News]

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