Fuel Economy Rule Promises Substantial Efficiency Gains Fumbles on Climate Protection

April 22, 2008

Washington, D.C. — The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) expressed optimism regarding the car and light truck fuel economy requirements proposed today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), but denounced DOT's continuing attempts to interfere with states' climate protection efforts. The DOT rule would be the first step towards meeting the increase in CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. "If the rule really leads to a fuel economy average of 31.6 miles per gallon by 2015, as the DOT claims, cars and trucks will be well on their way to meeting the minimum statutory requirement of 35 miles per gallon by 2020," said Therese Langer, ACEEE's Transportation Program Director. "Unfortunately, the rule is marred by its gratuitous attack on states' actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles."

Under the proposed rule, fuel economy requirements would differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, as they would depend upon the size mix of vehicles sold. If automakers produced vehicles larger than the DOT assumed in its calculations, average fuel economy could fall below DOT's projection. "We'll be looking for a commitment to revisit the rule if average fuel economy gains fall short," said Langer. "The bottom line for the CAFE program is how much oil savings it provides."

ACEEE estimates that achieving the average fuel economy levels projected in the rule would reduce oil consumption by 1.4 million barrels per day in 2020 and 2.1 million barrels per day in 2025. Further increases in the standards will be necessary to reach energy security and climate stabilization goals.