Increasing Fuel Economy Standards Would Be a Giant Leap Forward


The Obama administration’s proposed fuel economy standards for 2017 to 2025 passenger vehicles are a “giant step forward,” according to Luke Tonachel, a senior analyst in the Energy and Transportation program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Tonachel testified about the proposed standards, which would require passenger vehicles for 2017 to 2025 to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg), during a public hearing in Detroit on January 17, the first of three hearings on the standards held this month. The proposed standards are expected to be put in place by next summer.

“Without the standards, we will unnecessarily send $350 billion overseas to OPEC and other oil producing countries. We will also pad the revenues of the oil industry by another $150 billion,” Tonachel pointed out. The proposed standards means that the $500 billion will be invested “back into our economy and create almost 500,000 new jobs while cutting carbon pollution by the equivalent of 76 coal power plants.”

Hillary Sinnamon of the EDF testified at the Detroit hearing that increasing passenger vehicle standards “is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce our dependence on oil, and will likely be one of President Obama’s greatest climate and energy security legacies.”

UAW President Bob King said at the hearing, “Adopting the proposed rules will give an additional boost to the revival of the auto industry.”

The proposed standards, combined with the standards for 2012 to 2016 model year (35.4 mpg) vehicles finalized in 2010, would reduce oil consumption by an estimated 12 billion barrels, reduce carbon emissions by more than six billion metric tons, and provide $1.7 trillion in national fuel savings, and would save consumers more than $4,000 over the life of their vehicle, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

A joint report by the NRDC, United Auto Workers (UAW) and the National Wildlife Federation released last August stated that the proposed standards would reduce oil dependence in the U.S. and create jobs.


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Photo credits: Flickr user, M 93


Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe6 years ago

I need to tell my husband about this. He is looking for a new car NOW. I'm not sure he will wait until 2017.

Chad A.
Chad A6 years ago

We needed these standards in the '90s, with much better by now and the US would be a world-leader in the automobile industry again. I must say that I contiue to be pleased with the return to visionary leadership at the UAW with Bob King, but we still have a long way to go.

Warren Friedman
Warren Friedman6 years ago

In 2008 I drove from LA to Chicago including a few days driving around a number of cities and towns and averaged 60mpg in a Japanese hybrid vehicle so expecting cars to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon from 2017 is not really "a giant leap forward". Many European and Asian cars already have those sort of consumption figures. Aiming for 100mpg would be a good thing, aiming for zero fossil fuel consumption would be "a giant leap"!

Eddie O.
Eddie O6 years ago

I agree with you Larry, that the time line is way toooooooooo long! And, still, this will meet with great opposition, I'm sure.

doug s.
Past Member 6 years ago

a few thoughts.
- power generating factories account for over 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions. where do electric cars get their energy from?
- you have to do a complete life cycle analysis on the cost of mfr of electric cars - including disposal - then you will see how little electric cars help the enwironment.
- speaking of life cycle analysis - if there were a complete moratorium on car mfr'ing for 10 years, pollution rates would plummet, even w/o any fuel efficiency gains - making a car uses as much or more energy than the car itself uses.
- forcing mfr's to make fuel efficient cars when gas is relatively cheap does not work - as long as gas is relatively cheap, car buyers want cars that are not efficient. if gas was $4/gallon 30 years ago, like it was in europe, cars would be more fuel efficient because buyers would want those cars. (and the money would have gone to repair infrastructure, because it would have been tax dollars, instead of going to oil company profits.) gas prices, in europe, btw, are now ~$8/gallon...

- the best way to increase fuel efficiency is to increase gas taxes. period. nothing else will motivate the customers to want fuel efficient cars. nothing else will motivate the manufacturers better than customers demanding products consumers want.

Elizabeth Javinsky
Elizabeth J6 years ago

We as people as well as the government have to stand up to the big oil companies and not let them control this. It is too important to our wildlife, our environment and our children's future!

guiri t.
Georgi Penev6 years ago

Now if the morons running our country would fix one of the biggest reasons for wasting gas, things would improve a lot. What about all the time spent at stop lights around the country?

We can send people to the moon but not synchronize the lights on one freakin' main road so that we don't have to stop at every damn light? Where I live, going TWO towns over, I spend almost as much time waiting as I do driving. There's a damn light on almost every street corner and VERY often, I hit a red light, no matter what speed I drive at!

Don H.
Don H6 years ago

"Standardizing" automobile mpg to 54.5 is NOT a giant leap.
When "they" produce full-size autos to get 1000 mpg, THAT could be considered a "giant leap".
Until that time, motorists will get only that which the oil companies/auto manufacturers will allow. As long as dependence on fossil fuels exists, there will be no "leaping"....just little "kitty steps". We will always be bound to "the company store".
On the other hand, ANY saving is good, and at this time in history, saving 100 pennies is like saving 18 cents.

Cathryn C.
Cathryn C6 years ago

Expect Big Oil to fight hard to lower these standards again as they have every time they were raised. You can also expect the cost of these cars if they come to fruition to remain astronomical.. For what one of them costs you can buy a house these days in some areas. Ok it would be a short sale or foreclosure and need work, but at least there's a kitchen, bedrooms and bath for the money.

Joy Dantine
Joy Dantine6 years ago