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Back in May, the Obama Administration raised the national CAFE standard to 35.5 mpg (for cars and trucks) by 2016. The higher standard would build from the 27.3 mpg 2011 standard and go up five percent each year until 2016. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation issued a joint statement proposing just how the two agencies will work together to reach the higher standard required for model year 2012-2016 vehicles.

The 35.5 mpg number from the CAFE regulations can be reached, the DOT and EPA say, if all MY 2016 vehicles have "an estimated combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile" (to compare, that would be 155 g/km using the European g/km measurement) and that target is met by improving fuel economy. We can't help but think that a focus on CO2 instead of mpg is needed in light of new claims that cars can get 230 mpg.

The two agencies say that the new standard will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil, reduce greenhouse gases by 950 metric tons and save "the average car buyer" over $3,000 in fuel costs. The main point, though, is that everyone involved has agreed to combine the CAFE standards and EPA's greenhouse gas emissions standards into one, making it clear what automakers have to do to sell cars in any state in the Union.

Considering the long fight that the Auto Alliance had with California and other states that wanted to adopt more stringent rules than the Bush-era EPA was willing to declare, the EPA and DOT's proposal appeals to Alliance president Dave McCurdy. "Final rules are essential to providing manufacturers with the certainty and lead time necessary to plan for the future and cost effectively add new technology," he said. "We look forward to working constructively with the Obama administration to provide comments and begin meeting our shared goals of increasing fuel economy, enhancing energy security, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through this single national program." Press releases are after the jump, as is information on how to comment on the EPA and DOT's proposed rule over the next 60 days.

[Source: EPA/DOT, Auto Alliance]


DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson Propose National Program to Improve Fuel Economy and Reduce Greenhouse Gases

New Interagency Program to Address Climate Change and Energy Security

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson today jointly proposed a rule establishing an historic national program that would improve vehicle fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gases. Their proposal builds upon core principles President Obama announced with automakers, the United Auto Workers, leaders in the environmental community, governors and state officials in May, and would provide coordinated national vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions standards. The proposed program would also conserve billions of barrels of oil, save consumers money at the pump, increase fuel economy, and reduce millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

"American drivers will keep more money in their pockets, put less pollution into the air, and help reduce a dependence on oil that sends billions of dollars out of our economy every year," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "By bringing together a broad coalition of stakeholders – including an unprecedented partnership with American automakers – we have crafted a path forward that is win-win for our health, our environment, and our economy. Through that partnership, we've taken the historic step of proposing the nation's first ever greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles, and moved substantially closer to an efficient, clean energy future."

"The increases in fuel economy and the reductions in greenhouse gases we are proposing today would bring about a new era in automotive history," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "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."

Under the proposed program, which covers model years 2012 through 2016, automobile manufacturers would be able to build a single, light-duty national fleet that satisfies all federal requirements as well as the standards of California and other states. The proposed program includes miles per gallon requirements under NHTSA's Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) program and the first-ever national emissions standards under EPA's greenhouse gas program. The collaboration of federal agencies for this proposal also allows for clearer rules for all automakers, instead of three standards (DOT, EPA, and a state standard).

Specifically, the program would:
  • Increase fuel economy by approximately five percent every year
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons
  • Save the average car buyer more than $3,000 in fuel costs
  • Conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil
Increase Fuel Economy and Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions:
The proposed national program would require model year 2016 vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. Under the proposed program, the overall light-duty vehicle fleet would reach 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) in model year 2016, if all reductions were made through fuel economy improvements. If this occurs, Congress' fuel economy goal of 35.0 mpg by 2020 will be met four years ahead of schedule. This would surpass the CAFE law passed by Congress in 2007, which required an average fuel economy of 35 mpg in 2020.
Reduce Greenhouse Gases:
Climate change poses a significant long-term threat to America 's environment. The vehicles subject to the proposed rules announced today are responsible for almost 60 percent of all U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. These will be the nation's first ever national greenhouse gas standards. The proposed standards would require model year 2016 vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile under EPA's greenhouse gas program. The combined EPA and NHTSA standards would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the light-duty vehicle fleet by about 21 percent in 2030 over the level that would occur in the absence of any new greenhouse gas or fuel economy standards. The greenhouse gas emission reductions this program would bring about are equivalent to the emissions of 42 million cars.

Save Consumers Money:
NHTSA and EPA estimate that U.S. consumers who purchase their vehicle outright would save enough in lower fuel costs over the first three years to offset the increases in vehicle costs. Consumers would save more than $3,000 due to fuel savings over the lifetime of a model year 2016 vehicle.

Conserve Oil and Increase Energy Security:
The light-duty vehicles subject to this proposed National Program account for about 40 percent of all U.S. oil consumption. The program will provide important energy security benefits by conserving 1.8 billion barrels of oil, which is twice the amount of oil (crude oil and products) imported in 2008 from the Persian Gulf countries, according to the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration Office. These standards also provide important energy security benefits as light-duty vehicles account for about 60 percent of transportation oil use.

Within the Auto Industry's Reach:
EPA and NHTSA have worked closely to develop this coordinated joint proposal and have met with many stakeholders including automakers to insure the standards proposed today are both aggressive and achievable given the current financial state of the auto industry.

NHTSA and EPA expect automobile manufacturers would meet these proposed standards by improving engine efficiency, transmissions and tires, as well as increasing the use of start-stop technology and improvements in air conditioning systems. EPA and NHTSA also anticipate that these standards would promote the more widespread use of advanced fuel-saving technologies like hybrid vehicles and clean diesel engines.

NHTSA and EPA are providing a 60-day comment period that begins with publication of the proposal in the Federal Register. The proposal and information about how to submit comments are at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm for EPA and http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/site/nhtsa/menuitem.43ac99aefa80569eea57529cdba046a0/
for NHTSA.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement:
NHTSA has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed CAFE standards. The Draft EIS compares the environmental impacts of the agency's proposal and reasonable alternatives. NHTSA is providing a 45-day comment period on the Draft EIS. Information on the submission of comments is provided at the above NHTSA Web address

Statement of Dave McCurdy on National Program for GHG/Fuel Economy Proposal

Washington, D.C. – "Last May, automakers committed to President Obama to increase the average fuel economy in new vehicles by 40 percent to a combined 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. This historic joint-rulemaking proposal released today by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration creates a coordinated national approach for increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gases and prevents competing regulations at the state and federal level.

The proposal provides manufacturers with a roadmap for meeting significant increases for model years 2012-2016. Final rules are essential to providing manufacturers with the certainty and lead time necessary to plan for the future and cost effectively add new technology. We look forward to working constructively with the Obama administration to provide comments and begin meeting our shared goals of increasing fuel economy, enhancing energy security, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through this single national program.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Show a little love, at least they used grams... It could have been ounces per mile.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The EPA announcement link points an EPA fact sheet for the proposed standards. It's an interesting but complicated read. Lots of (too much) flexibility, credits for A/C that emits less greenhouse gases, credits for alternative fuels and electricity, low-volume programs, etc.

      @Peter F,
      There are still separate standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks (no mention whether the byzantine Title 49: Transportation PART 523 rules for a light truck remain in place), and there are separate targets for different "footprint" areas which (at least in the May 2009 proposal to propose) were based on the distances between the wheels. That seems stupid to me, why should a bigger car or truck get to emit more? Their example of a small car is the Honda Fit which seats 5, and it's easier to fit a hybrid powertrain to a larger vehicle.

      From the fact sheet "Together, EPA and NHTSA estimate that the average cost increase for a model year 2016 vehicle due to the proposed national program is less than $1,100", and they claim the fuel savings are greater than that cost.
      • 5 Years Ago
      so its official?.. the debate has been settled?.. we worry about CO2 now?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm not sure what "debate" you're referring to. Back in 2007 the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the right to regulate CO2 emissions from new cars. The Bush administration did nothing but in September 2009 EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told reporters that a formal "endangerment finding," which would trigger federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, probably would "happen in the next months."

        If you're referring to the "debate" about anthropogenic greenhouse gases including CO2 causing global warming, it'll end the same day as the debates about Darwinian evolution and the American moon landings. But the first IPCC in 1990 reached that conclusion and it's been strengthened since by experiment, modeling, analysis, and observed effects.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ya, that happened November 4rth.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Concentration on CO2 per mile, which directly corresponds to consumption of gasoline per mile (rather than range per gallon), more directly addresses fuel consumption than our current system.

      for example, take the average of 3 cars. MPG / Gallons per 100 miles

      10 mpg / 10 gallons per 100 miles
      20 mpg / 5 gallons per 100 miles
      30 mpg / 3.3 gallons per 100 miles

      Average MPG = 20
      Average gallons per 100 miles= 6.1

      Now take 3 cars that all make 20 mpg:
      Average MPG: 20
      Average gallons per 100 miles: 5

      Changing the metric to C02 emissions per mile more realistically address reducing consumption of gasoline (and allows for alternative fuels), as opposed to our current mpg standard.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I am wondering what happens in this equation with cars that use batteries for power. Where do they come into the picture, as there is CO2 being released somewhere to create the electric, right? Well, unless all the electric is coming from wind/solar/hydro/hydrogen or something like that.
        • 5 Years Ago
        KenGirard: Coal fired powerplants can and do use efficiency boosting techniques and devices that are too large for mobile use, so they achieve much higher efficiency than an automotive IC engine. Coupled with the exceptionally high efficiency of the grid and EVs, that means lower CO2 emissions from "coal fired" EVs than from equivalent gassers.

        Even better, less than half the US electrical production is from coal, and the percentage is dropping. In California, over 40% of electricity is from renewable sources (hydro, solar, wind, geothermal) and 20.1% from Coal, and that percentage keeps dropping as more renewables come online.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I really wish the US would continue with that it uses for all things science and medicine...metric. Just use what the world is using for vehicles, g/km. Oh well, still a good move away from the MPG.
        • 5 Years Ago
        that is a good point, sorry about that. I guess it helps to create jobs for the economy :P
        • 5 Years Ago
        but then what would i do with all of the extra time in my day that's now spent converting numbers for ABG?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am getting tired of always reading "European" next to a metric measurement. Metric / SI is not a European thing - it is a world thing. The US is the only significant exception.
        • 5 Years Ago
        it is a world thing. The US is the only significant exception

        You mean were not the world?! ;)

        (totally being sarcastic, in case anybody was confused)
      • 5 Years Ago
      "save "the average car buyer" over $3,000 in fuel costs."

      Does this include the additional cost of making a car meet this standard? Or is that "free" like healthcare?
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're assuming there would be "additional costs", but that's not necessarily so. Manufacturers could, for example, use hybrid or plug-in hybrid technology, which would increase costs, or they could go for smaller lighter "economy" designs which would cost less. I'm betting we'll see both.

        So it depends on what the consumer buys, some will buy more expensive, some will buy cheaper. Either way, the fueling costs go down.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "But the first IPCC in 1990 reached that conclusion and it's been strengthened since by experiment, modeling, analysis, and observed effects."

      Please name one successful experiment and one observed effect that proves CO2 does anything except grow plants. The IPCC theory of AGW based on computer models is nothing but a hoax to control economic growth.

      The only thing that has been "strengthened" is the science showing the real and natural causes of climate change, and the most important "observed effect" is that the climate has cooled for the last decade.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I had heard something about the regulations classifying cars by wheelbase, so that cars with longer wheelbases could get worse gas mileage. I remember hearing that auto makers would "game the system", resulting in some oddly-proportioned cars. Is this still part of the new rules?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Peter F,
        The old rules for "light truck" classification are Title 49: Transportation PART 523—VEHICLE CLASSIFICATION. They are a mind-bending farrago of weights, removable seats, approach angles, wheelbase, footprint, front volume, etc.

        Yes, automakers gamed the system and I'm sure they paid for the details in the first place. For example Subaru jacked up the Legacy and reshaped its bumpers and suddenly the 2004 Outback version became a "light truck". I don't know how the new rules will change. The administration should order Government Motors and Chrysis not to waste the taxpayers' money lobbying to pervert the new standards.
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