New Vehicle Standards Make Huge Efficiency Improvements


The EPA and Department of Transportation (DOT) recently released new vehicle standards, which would make new vehicles’ fuel economy the highest seen in over 30 years. Sustainability groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), are urging the Obama administration to finalize the standards (and prevent loopholes), a UCS press release reports. If finalized, the proposed standards would potentially benefit the environment, consumers’ finances, and the nation’s energy security.

Implementing the new standards would expectedly increase fleet-wide fuel economy to 34.1 miles per gallon and establish the first national tailpipe emissions standard as 250 grams per mile (thereby decreasing the average vehicle’s tailpipe emissions by nearly 30 percent). The standards determine vehicles’ fuel economy requirements using an attribute-based system, which base fuel economy primarily on a vehicle’s size rather than its weight.

According to some estimates, by 2020, the proposed standards would reduce U.S. oil consumption by approximately 1.3 million barrels a day; decrease CO2 emissions by 217 million metric tons; and save drivers an estimated $26 billion in gas (based on a gas price of $2.25 per gallon) even after paying for vehicle improvements.

Green groups warn that lawmakers must ensure that the new standards do not contain loopholes, such as underestimations of heat-trapping emissions. Such loopholes could undermine the effectiveness of the proposed standards.

The EPA and DOT must finalize the standards by March 31, 2010.

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

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