President Barack Obama announced on Friday an agreement for new fuel economy standards by 2025.
The president, automobile manufacturers and California regulators said they reached a deal that would decrease auto fuel consumption by the largest amount since the 1970s – something that would not only save drivers money but also reduce the amount of heat-trapping gases coming from tailpipes. Their agreement would double overall fuel economy standards from an average of 27 miles per gallon to 54.5 miles per gallon between 2017 and 2025.
“This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we have taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Obama said with the top executives of the major automakers standing next to him. “Just as cars will go further on a gallon of gas, our economy will go further on a barrel of oil.”
The increase in miles per gallon also means the United States would reduce its oil consumption from vehicles by 40 percent and save about $8,000 in fuel costs over a vehicle’s lifetime.
The announcement also got praise from California’s governor, Democrat Jerry Brown. Brown said he was glad “the auto companies have finally come on board” in support of tougher air pollution standards that California has long pushed.
“This marks a complete reversal from what we were facing just a few years ago when California was engaged in multiple lawsuits in different states with the major automobile companies about efficiency standards and greenhouse-gas emissions,” Brown said. “The agreement today is about regulation. It’s regulation that will advance the well-being of the country by encouraging technological innovation, the reduction of fuel consumption and the reduction of greenhouse gases that are being spewed into the environment.”
Although the agreement would mean a significant reduction in US oil consumption, there were some last minute snags that almost prevented a deal. Automakers were hesitant to sign on without more assurances from the Obama administration that California, which has some of the toughest fuel economy standards in the country, would not try to set its own standards for fuel economy if it did not like the results of a midterm review of how automakers were doing on meeting the new goals. Ultimately, California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols said they agreed the companies would not sue challenging the state’s authority and the state would not attempt to make its own standards through 2025.
“We will agree to accept those federal standards as being in compliance with California’s regulations when it comes to greenhouse gases,” Nichols said.
Beyond new standards, though, the deal also would pave the way for US consumers to save more than $80 billion annually by 2030 and, according to the United Auto Workers, produce up to 150,000 new auto jobs by 2021.
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