Obama administration takes major leap on CAFE standards
At The New York Times, Jonathan Schultz writes
After months of hand-wringing by industry lobbies and environmental groups, President Obama announced the new round of Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, known as CAFE, on Friday in Washington. The standards call for a 5 percent annual increase in fuel economy for passenger cars from 2017 to 2025, culminating in a mandated 54.5 miles per gallon.
Creating the new CAFE round involved the participation of major car manufacturers in the United States, a process that, while fraught at times, ended with a near-unanimous, if somewhat meek, embrace of the tough new standards.
Peter Lehner of the Natural Resources Defense Council reacted:
All one hears on Capitol Hill these days is that America canít do it Ė we canít drill for gas more safely and keep the costs down, we canít reduce toxic pollution from power plants and refineries, you name it.
History shows all these claims are wrong, or at least vastly overstated.
What was so wonderful about today was that the manufacturers, the workers and others all dropped the whining and agreed to do what's best for this country and our children's future. That's the real triumph here. [...]
On the environmental front, this is a giant leap forward. Our cars and trucks belch out 1.7 billion tons of climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions each year, accounting for 28 percent of our national carbon footprint. Cutting those emissions by nearly half is huge.
"So when your kids are biking around the neighborhood, they'll be breathing less pollution and fewer toxins," as Obama put it. "It means we're doing more to protect our air and water, and it means we're reducing the carbon pollution that threatens our climate."
Those reductions alone would make this a stunning achievement. That, though, is just the beginning.
As did Michelle Robinson, director of the Union of Concerned Scientistsí Clean Vehicles:
These standards will give our cars and trucks a technology makeover. We will still see the same types of vehicles on the road, but they will be dramatically more fuel efficient, cost less to operate, and produce less pollution. For the second time, President Obama has brought together the auto industry, the states, and other stakeholders to support strong standards that will protect consumers from high gas prices, curb global warming pollution, cut our oil dependence, and create innovative jobs in the American auto industry. We applaud the Obama administration and California for moving forward with these important standards.
The technology exists to make any car, truck or SUV cleaner and more fuel efficient, and these standards will unleash innovation in the auto industry.
This agreement is an important step forward, but there are still parts of the plan that need to be resolved. If they arenít implemented correctly, they could turn into loopholes. If automakers can meet the standards with accounting tricks instead of using better technology, the programís overall benefits would be eroded. We look forward to working with the administration and different stakeholders to evaluate and revise these standards so they produce the best vehicles possible for consumers, the auto industry, the country and the planet.Ē