White House rolls out details of fuel economy, emissions standard ” The biggest step the U.S. government has ever taken to cut CO2

Back in May,  the Obama administration announced it would move forward on national standards for new vehicle fuel economy and tailpipe greenhouse gas emission (see here):

This is a very big deal,” said Daniel Becker of the Safe Climate Campaign, a group that has pushed for tougher mileage and emissions standards with the goal of curbing the heat-trapping gases that have been linked to global warming. “This is the single biggest step the American government has ever taken to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Today the Administration rolled out the final details.  The AP reports:

The Obama administration is unveiling plans to require higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and tougher rules on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson planned to release the proposed regulations Tuesday. They call for the auto industry’s fleet of new vehicles to average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. The plan follows up on President Barack Obama’s announcement in May that the government regulations would link emissions and fuel economy standards.

Greenwire (via the NYT) notes, “The carbon dioxide limit under the plan — which will apply to passenger cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles — would reach an average of 250 grams per mile per vehicle in 2016.”

The Obama administration estimated earlier this year the requirements would cost up to $1,300 per new vehicle by 2016 but take just three years to pay off the investment and save about $2,800 over the life of the vehicle through better gas mileage.

During a visit to a General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, Obama said the new standards are overdue.

“This action will give our auto companies some long-overdue clarity, stability and predictability,” he said….

A congressional official briefed on the details said the proposal was expected to increase vehicle fuel efficiency by about 5 percent annually, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons and save an average car buyer more than $3,000 in fuel costs. The plan would also conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil, according to the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly in advance of the White House announcement.

The administration was expected to note that the proposal’s plan to reach 35.5 mpg by the 2016 model year would put it four years ahead of a 2007 law approved by Congress that would have required the auto industry to meet a 35 mpg average in 2020.

Kudos to team Obama.

Click here (pdf) to read the notice of intent.

UPDATE:  Dan Becker has issued a statement:

“Keeping President Obama’s promise, today’s proposed clean car rule is the biggest single step the US has taken to curb global warming and our oil addiction.   It demonstrates to the world that the United States is now confronting the threat of global warming.  It shows that we can use the Clean Air Act and other existing laws to tackle the pollution spewing from vehicles and power plants.

“Controlling global warming pollution is auto mechanics, not rocket science.  All automakers have the advanced technologies – engines, transmissions, high strength, lightweight materials and aerodynamics — to safely achieve this new standard and to go beyond it.

“The devil is in the details. Detroit’s lobbyists have done their best to riddle this decision with credits and other loopholes.  We urge the Administration to close these loopholes or implement an automatic backstop to ensure that the president’s promise of 35.5 mpg average vehicles in 2016 will be kept.”

11 Responses to White House rolls out details of fuel economy, emissions standard ” The biggest step the U.S. government has ever taken to cut CO2

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    Bravo! and a Helpful Number

    Bravo! Great news.

    I thought I’d add a helpful number that allows people to “grasp” certain things a bit better.

    A gallon of gasoline, when used, generates between 19 to 20 pounds of CO2. Yes, that’s from a single gallon.

    (Basic chemistry explains why. CO2 has oxygen in it, in addition to carbon, of course.)

    The number is usually put at between 19.4 and 20 pounds.

    Indeed, in the present case, if you do the calculation involving the “250 grams of CO2 per mile” figure and the 35.5 mpg figure, you can see that the factor (in this case) is about 19.6 pounds of CO2 generated per gallon of gasoline used.

    I think it’s helpful to keep that in mind. That’s a figure that people can “get”, regarding the amount of CO2 that gasoline generates. For example, this means that, for most people, each tank of gas they buy and use puts an amount of CO2 into the atmosphere that weighs more than they do. Ten gallons of gas will generate nearly 200 pounds of CO2. That’s A LOT of CO2.

    So, bravo to the new proposed regulations.

    Be Well,


  2. Bob Wallace says:

    Project Get Ready has released a handy on line calculator which lets you compare the overall cost and carbon emission for various vehicle choices.

    It let’s you pick two cars and compare them based on your annual driving mileage and style, what you expect gas and electricity to cost, how long you’ll own the vehicle, etc.

    (Hit the Advanced Options to get more input options.)

    Interesting outcomes when you look at how paying more up front can save a lot in the long term.

  3. Doug says:

    I wonder how plug-in hybrids should figure into this?

    Take the Volt for example: it officially gets 260mpg, so it doesn’t seem like GM will have to do much more than make sure that the Volts sell well, and it won’t need to do a whole lot more with the other models to bring the fleet average up to 35mpg.

    Let’s say Company X sells 1 million SUVs that get 20mpg. They’d just need to sell 67,000 hybrids that officially get 260mpg to bring the combined 1.067 million-car fleet up to 35mpg.

    Of course, getting 67k plug-in hybrids on the road is a pretty good thing, so maybe this isn’t really a problem. Just that there’s going to be a lot of sensitivity to how the EPA defines the tests that determine the official mpg numbers for plug-in hybrids.

  4. BBHY says:

    Sorry Jeff, but your number is too low. It’s really more like 23 to 24 pounds of CO2 per gallon.

    To produce a gallon of gasoline you have to refine crude oil, which has to be pumped out and transported. You have to add in the CO2 generated in the pumping, transport and refining processes to get an full CO2 footprint for gasoline.

    As crude oil become more scarce, an ever larger portion of our gasoline is produced from oil shale and oil sands and tar sands. Producing gasoline from those sources increases the CO2 footprint tremendously, probably to 40 pounds or more.

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    BBHY (Comment 4)

    BBHY, I said “when used”, and I was trying to convey how much a person actually generates in her/his car when the gasoline is burned. That’s a very easy and concrete number — and something that people should know. It doesn’t depend on estimates from the producers/refiners, so it can at least be considered “solid” from the standpoint of what it is.

    That said, I agree with you that much energy is used in the whole process, not only in logistics and transportation, and refining, but also in the exploration process and etc. — throughout the whole process. I agree with you that the “all in” number must be somewhat — probably considerably — greater than the 19 to 20.

    Yet, that extra component of the number depends on estimates. Where can credible estimates be found? The oil companies probably aren’t offering them. May I ask, what is the source of your 23 to 24 pound figure? Is it on the web, in a report, or in IPCC documents? I’d love to understand the number, but I like to understand sources and bases and so forth.

    Any info you can provide regarding the basis of your 23-24 number would be appreciated. Thanks.



  6. Ken Johnson says:

    “…the proposal was expected to … reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons …” That’s 950 million allowances that fuel refiners will not have to use to cover vehicle emissions under ACES. What will become of those allowances?

  7. Lou says:

    I read what seemed to be a fairly good analysis about the new fuel economy standards on a rather obscure blog a while back. I think this is the link:

  8. Stuart says:

    I was reading about this on some of the local Minnesota newspaper websites and the comments are jammed full with tales of woe – how this amounts to the socialists taking their freedom away, how you can’t tow a boat with a smart car, and more pearl-clutching and teeth-gnashing.

    I don’t know how they can simultaneously believe that “America is the greatest country EVAR” and at the same time believe we can’t produce a pickup that gets 35 MPG.

  9. I says:

    There is no climate change you bunch of brain dead lemmings!

  10. Cynthia says:

    2016 is a little late, isn’t it, considering the sea ice at the arctic is so thin you can’t even walk on it! It seems like he could have made it more in tune with WW2 efforts.

  11. Leif says:

    Welcome #9: Even though you are obviously an Anti-Science Sink Hole, there is more than enough science to awaken even you should you care to read. Oh, did you know that those hacked e-mails appeared to have originated from Russia. So now it is clear that Rush and Beck are in cahoots with the Russian Oil industry to maximize Russian oil profits and you are a willing participant that gets the reward of higher oil prices and those profits are sent over seas to boot. Talk of brain dead!