Obama Takes Action on Gas Mileage Standards, Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Moving quickly on environmental campaign promises, President Obama calls for higher fuel economy standards and a review of greenhouse gas regulations.

President Obama issued two memoranda on Monday to address the fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions of the nation's automobiles.

The president directed the secretary of transportation to publish higher fuel economy standards for the model-year 2011 cars and light trucks by the end of March, and to re-evaluate the proposed standards for future model years. Automakers would generally begin selling model-year 2011 vehicles in fall 2010.

President Obama also directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revisit a California waiver request that would allow that state to implement its own greenhouse gas emission rules for vehicles.

The federal Clean Air Act allows only California to set emission standards that deviate from federal rules, and any California standards require a waiver from the EPA. However, once California enacts its own standards, the act allows other states to adopt the rules set in California. Although the waiver request applies specifically to California, more than a dozen other states intend to implement the California greenhouse gas rules for vehicles if the waiver is granted.

"It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil, while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs," Obama said. "We hold no illusion about the task that lies ahead. I cannot promise a quick fix. No single technology or set of regulations will get the job done. But we will commit ourselves to steady, focused, pragmatic pursuit of an America that is free from our energy dependence and empowered by a new energy economy that puts millions of our citizens to work."

Regarding the new memoranda, Obama noted, "Our goal is not to further burden an already struggling industry," but rather "to help America's automakers prepare for the future."

Glen Graham
9/4/2009 11:10:26 AM

I've thought for many many years that we should set a minimum MPG level for cars etc to be approved - it's such an obvious thing for governments to apply. My wife's car does 70+ MPG (turbo diesel)and still drives like a normal car - it's not a sports car by any means, but it will do 100 mph (if you want) and why would you need even that speed on a normal road? My Landrover does a LOT less, but then it's used for driving through woodland for our timber - perhaps there would need to be exemptions for vehicles genuinely used for such things (not sub 30mpg SUVs just used for the school run for example!).

1/29/2009 11:49:56 AM

Do one thing, do it well, and move to the next. Forget the electrical grid and CO2 of power plants till you GET US OFF FOREIGN OIL FIRST! What happened to the EPA and their Hydraulic Hybrid which would save MILLIONS of gallons of fuel each year. These systems are practical, affordable, available NOW, and they WORK. Put the systems to work now on all new vehicles and offer retrofits for existing vehicles. All federally owned vehicles used in stop and go driving, all school buses, city buses, trash trucks, postal delivery vehicles should be mandated to use the hydraulic hybrid system. The EPA holds patents on this technology and has proven for years that the technology works, is affordable, and is able to be retrofitted to existing vehicles for a reasonable price.Get us off foreign oil now and save 700 BILLION dollars per year of imported oil.

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