April 2, 2010

U.S. Sets Tough New Fuel Economy Standards

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have announced a new set of fuel economy guidelines designed to help reduce oil use and greenhouse gas emissions.

By 2016, all cars and trucks will have to meet a new industry standard of 34.1 miles per gallon, up from the current minimum of 25 miles per gallon. Furthermore, automotive companies much adhere to a combined emissions level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile.

In a joint statement, the DOT and the EPA said that the new guidelines "will significantly increase the fuel economy of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States."

"The rules could potentially save the average buyer of a 2016 model year car 3,000 dollars over the life of the vehicle and, nationally, will conserve about 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce nearly a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the lives of the vehicles covered," the agencies said.

"These historic new standards set ambitious, but achievable, fuel economy requirements for the automotive industry that will also encourage new and emerging technologies," added Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, according to an April 1 AFP report. "We will be helping American motorists save money at the pump, while putting less pollution in the air."

New standards were also announced in Canada, where Environment Minister Jim Prentice rules that all passenger cars and light trucks in Canada or the U.S. had to be 25-percent more fuel efficient starting in 2011. All vehicles manufactured starting in the model year 2011 are also expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 92 megatons over the lifetime of the automobile.

The two countries are also expected to jointly announce new emissions standards for trucks, ships, and trains by year's end. According to estimates, the program is expected to reduce CO2 standards by more than 900-million metric tons through 2030.

"This is a significant step towards cleaner air and energy efficiency, and an important example of how our economic and environmental priorities go hand-in-hand," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a Thursday press release. "By working together with industry and capitalizing on our capacity for innovation, we've developed a clean cars program that is a win for automakers and drivers, a win for innovators and entrepreneurs, and a win for our planet."


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