White House announces national vehicle emissions policy
President Barack Obama May 19 announced plans for national fuel efficiency requirements. The policy is aimed at increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is projected to conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce emissions by an approximate 900 million metric tons under the life of the program.
The estimated effect of the emissions reduction is equivalent to taking 177 million cars off the road or shutting down 194 coal plants, the White House said in a press release. The standards cover model years from 2012 to 2016 and, by 2016, will require an average 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg), surpassing Congress' previous goal of reaching 35 mpg by 2020.
In a Rose Garden statement, Obama addressed consumer fears of higher automobile costs by stating that, over the life of a vehicle, an average driver would save about $2,800 in fuel costs. Automakers have backed Obama's plan since they would not have to face multiple emission requirements in the future and would have more certainty in developing new vehicles. CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Dave McCurdy applauded the president for bringing automotive manufacturers and environmental groups together and stressed the importance of a national policy in avoiding conflicting standards from different regulatory agencies. Obama addressed the importance of the policy, stating that it:
represents not only a change in policy in Washington, but the harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington. As a result of this agreement, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years. And at a time of historic crisis in our auto industry, this rule provides the clear certainty that will allow these companies to plan for a future in which they are building the cars of the 21st century.
Obama said that by using less oil, producing less pollution and creating new jobs, his policy will help the economy run more efficiently.
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed finding that atmospheric greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, setting the stage for federal government regulation for the first time. The new policy addresses the growing concern of inconsistent emission standards developing across the states. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have sought to adopt their own emission standards. The Clean Air Act provisions on state standards prohibit states from "adopt[ing] or attempt[ing] to enforce any standard relating to the control of emissions from new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines" without obtaining a waiver. In March, the EPA reconsidered California's request to regulate vehicle emissions after denying their request in 2008. (Jurist, May 19)
See our last post on the climate crisis and petro-oligarchical rule.