White House touts finalized fuel standards

Aug. 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- New fuel-efficiency standards of 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks would save U.S. consumers $1.7 trillion, the administration said Tuesday.

The new standards, which will take effect for model year 2025 cars and light trucks, will reduce oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, the White House said in a statement. It will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially, the statement said.

The program takes the 35.5 miles per gallon standards due to take effect in 2016 to a new level. The White House said the standards "will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks in half by 2025, reducing emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program -- more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010."

"These fuel standards represent the single most important step we've ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This historic agreement builds on the progress we've already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption," President Barack Obama said.

"By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today," he said, touting gains in energy security, environmental protection and economic savings.

In some ways the new standards could be seen as a fallout of the financial meltdown of 2008.

The White House pressed for the new standards soon after bailing out both General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group, which had gone into bankruptcy in 2009, in part as a result of tighter lending standards.

With billions of dollars loaned to the two companies, industry analysts figured the car companies had concluded it would be bad form to confront the White House on higher fuel efficiency standards.

Not long before this -- in July 2008 -- the price of oil had shot up to a record price of more than $147 per barrel, which also put a damper on resistance to the new standards, which the White House had said would save automobile owners money over the average lifespan of a car.

Compared to previous efforts to forestall or derail higher standards, resistance to the newest proposal was considered light.

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