What would you say if I told you we could save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and cut greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions by 960 million metric tons--the equivalent of taking 50 million cars off American roads? And what if I told you we could do those things while saving American consumers money at the pump?
If you were the nation's environmental organizations or automakers, you would cheer.
Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said:
"America needs a road map to reduced dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gases, and only the federal government can play this role. The national program announced today makes sense for consumers, for government policymakers and for automakers."
David Doniger, climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, agreed:
"The standards forthcoming under the 'clean car peace treaty' are a good deal for consumers, for companies, for the country and for the planet."
Our new standards, covering cars and trucks for model years 2012 to 2016, require automakers to meet a fleet-wide fuel-economy average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.
We are talking about a nearly 10 mpg increase over current standards. But we aren't asking for that kind of increase all at once. The way we get there is to ask manufacturers to improve fuel economy by 5% each year. That incremental approach makes these standards ambitious but achievable.
The technologies to hit the earliest of the incremental targets exist right now. The Wall Street Journal even called them "mundane." We just want consumers to have that fuel-saving technology available to them when they walk into a showroom.
Look, the shapes of the cars we drive is unlikely to change much. SUVs will not disappear. Full-size sedans will not disappear. The higher standards we require will simply encourage development of new technologies and give a spark to emerging technologies. So, if you're comfortable with the look and feel of today's cars, you don't need to worry.
But there are also game-changing innovations close to market. Earlier this year, I went to the Detroit Auto Show, and I saw how excited everyone was--from consumers to manufacturers--about the advent of our first mass-market electric vehicles. Nissan's Leaf and Chevy's Volt had everyone fired-up about a new age in automobiles.
Between hybrids, electrics, and clean-diesel vehicles and enhancements to conventional vehicles like better gearing, direct-injection, and more efficient tires, consumers will actually have more choices in 2016 than we have today.
And putting more fuel-efficient cars on the road isn't just a great way to save the environment. It's also a great way for Americans to save money at the pump. In fact, consumers will save as much as $3000 in fuel costs over the life of these new vehicles.
That kind of savings more than makes up for the cost increase associated with these new standards.
A recent report co-authored by the United Auto Workers and the Natural Resources Defense Council also shows that putting a fleet of more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road will be an engine of job growth all the way through the supply chain.
"Increasing automotive fuel efficiency will create jobs," noted UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.
Administrator Jackson observed that our final rule shows environmental protection "can be done in a thoughtful way that doesn’t turn the economy on its ear, that doesn’t cause the sky to fall."
In January 2009, President Obama promised a new direction in American fuel-economy. In May of that year, Administrator Jackson and I stood with the President when he announced his national fuel-economy policy, uniting EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions with DOT efforts to set fuel-economy standards. And in September, we proposed a rule based on that policy.
Yesterday, after receiving over 130,000 comments on the proposed rule and after months of exhausting work by dedicated employees in both agencies, we finalized that rule and delivered on President Obama's promise.
Administrator Jackson summed it up nicely: "This is a win for automakers and drivers, a win for innovators and entrepreneurs, and a win for our planet."