New target for fuel efficiency set by Obama administration

August 29, 2012 12:00 AM

New rules on fuel efficiency set by the Obama administration will now require automakers to meet a 54.5 miles per gallon standard by 2025, according to the Washington Post. The pressure on auto manufacturers should shift the focus to electric vehicles, as well as improve the mileage of regular models through design techniques and more efficient engines. In the meantime, consumers may improve their current vehicle's fuel efficiency by maintaining proper tire alignment and vehicle maintenance.

Environmentalists and other advocates for fuel conservation are pleased with the news, according to The New York Times, however opponents attacked the supporters saying the changes are too costly for consumers.

Ray LaHood, transportation secretary, responds to the critics stating the new standards would save Americans $1.7 trillion in fuel costs at an average of $8,000 a vehicle by 2025, the news source reports.

"You put better technology in the car and the price is going to go up. But it goes up a fraction of what you save on gas," LaHood told reporters in a conference call.

Lisa Jackson from the Environmental Protection Agency agreed by telling the news provider that this is the biggest move America has made to cut down greenhouse emissions. Along with other parts of the transportation sector, emissions from vehicles account for close to one-third of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions.

According to the news source, the standards will not only impact the environment positively, but proponents also state they may help generate thousands of jobs by increasing the demand for new technologies. The Christian Science Monitor reports that between 2011 and 2025, close to 6 billion tons of emissions would be avoided.

"Our nation will be more secure, our environment will be cleaner, and consumers will have more money in their pockets as a result of the new rule," Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Clean Energy Program, an environmental organization based in Washington, told The New York Times.

At one time, the auto industry fought the administration over these standards, now 13 companies are in full support of the rules, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Automakers say the standards will help them focus on making better investments by having a national standard, instead of having to meet differing state requirements.

"The Auto Alliance has called for a single, national program because conflicting requirements from several regulatory bodies raise costs, ultimately taking money out of consumers' pockets and hurting sales. We all want to get more fuel-efficient autos on our roads, and a single, national program with a strong midterm review helps us get closer to that shared goal," the group of 13 major automakers - including Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volvo - said in a statement to Christian Science Monitor.

Ceres, a Boston-based green investor group, projects that U.S. automakers can expect $2.44 billion in added profits and 300,000 sales by 2020, according to the news source. The investor group also expects to see close to 484,000 new jobs.

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