Obama To Announce Tougher Fuel Standards

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This is a pretty big stake in the ground, because they’ll be using California’s standards…the toughest in the nation.

No doubt you’ll be hearing that this is bad for business, but that’s what they said about seat belts, airbags and every other time CAFE standards were raised. And I think we’re all fairly aware that the car companies who’ve prospered are the ones who offered the highest fuel efficiency standards the earliest.

From NY Times:

President Obama will announce as early as Tuesday that he will combine that state’s emissions rules with the existing corporate average fuel economy standard overseen by the Transportation Department, the officials said. As a result, cars and light trucks sold in the United States will be roughly 30 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016.

The White House would not divulge details, but environmental advocates and industry officials briefed on the program said that the president would grant California’s longstanding request to implement its tailpipe standards. Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia have said they intend to apply the same rules. That request had been denied by the Bush administration but has been under review by top Obama administration officials since January.

Yet Mr. Obama is planning to go further, effectively issuing a single rule for both fuel economy and emissions that matches California’s strictest-in-the-nation standards.

Under the new standard, the new combined fuel efficiency standard for cars and light trucks will be about 35 miles per gallon by 2016, roughly in line with the California rule.

In my mind this is a smart move for many reasons, not the least of which is you diffuse the emissions standards argument immediately. Yes, it will upset states rights’ advocates, but how does it makes sense that a state should be able to determine whether or not certain pollution levels are acceptable or how much mileage cars can have in their locale?

In other words, there are some things that must be mandated by the federal government, and this is one of them. Our long term strategic interests, both for the environment and our dependency on foreign oil, rely on one set of standards across the board.

More as it develops…