Light Duty Fuel Economy
EPA and DOT recently proposed rules to implement the Obama Administration’s May announcement that federal standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles would be set to “harmonize” with California’s groundbreaking greenhouse gas standards by 2016. The proposal is worth celebrating, not only because it will deliver by far the biggest vehicle efficiency improvements in decades, but also because the introduction of EPA into the process makes it more likely that the standards will accelerate the development of efficiency technologies in the future.
The Obama Administration announced a key decision to bring national vehicle standards for fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions up to levels adopted in California, resolving a longstanding battle between the auto industry and state regulators. While the standards represent a quicker pace of improvement than the target of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 set in EISA 2007, auto manufacturers supported the move, saying that it provides the level of certainty and uniformity the industry needs.
Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats have announced agreement on a vehicle scrappage program that would offer vouchers of $3,500 or $4,500 for consumers to retire their vehicles and purchase new ones. Unlike the scrappage bill introduced in January, which aims to accelerate the modernization of the U.S. fleet to a more fuel-efficient one, the program just announced aims primarily to clear Detroit’s unsold inventory from the storage lots.
Washington, D.C. — ACEEE commends the intent of Representative Sutton, sponsor of the CARS Act, to help the U.S. auto industry emerge successfully from the current crisis while reducing oil dependence and global warming emissions. Unfortunately, the vehicle scrappage program outlined by the bill as introduced would not achieve its energy and environmental objectives.
The most serious shortcomings of the bill are:
Washington, D.C. — The Department of Transportation today announced new fuel economy standards averaging 27.3 miles per gallon for model year 2011 cars and light trucks. The standards are disappointing. They are weaker than the standards proposed last spring, and those were based on an unrealistically low gasoline price forecast. A reasonable price forecast should have led to higher standards, not lower ones.
The election is over. President-elect Obama’s transition team has already started its work, and in Congress, new leadership will be elected. What can we expect from the new Administration and a new Congress on energy efficiency policy? Probably quite a bit, since Obama emphasized energy (principally energy efficiency and renewable energy) as one of his key issues (along with the economy, health care, and education).