President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced an accelerated plan for a national uniform federal standard to regulate both fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions. The new program seems fit for the environment and consumers.
The plan would satisfy the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of California, the latter the most important as it has tried to gain a waiver for fuel economy standards more restrictive than federal law. More than a dozen other states want the California standards, including efforts in the Minnesota Legislature to adopt the tougher standards.
The Obama administration would cover vehicle model year 2012 to model year 2016 and ultimately requires an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg in 2016, tougher than that required under the energy bill enacted by Congress in 2007.
The result of the new standard is a projected reduction of about 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program and a projected total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of about 800 million metric tons.
The Obama plan has the support of automakers who seek a uniform standard applied throughout the United States. Lobbying was intense to stop the Minnesota Legislature from adopting California's stricter standards, which would cause car makers to manufacture different models for different states.
The plan would be good for consumers by saving them money over the long term in increased fuel efficiency and in consumer choice. The new rules would not dictate the size of cars, trucks and SUVs that manufacturers can produce, rather it would require that all sizes of vehicles become more energy efficient.
And, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the new standards would promote a cleaner environment sooner.
We've often wondered why fuel efficiency hasn't been pushed hard before, as the technology is there. This way, one national standard will provide clear rules for automakers and avoid a more costly patchwork of fuel efficiency and pollution rules.
This movement to a greener and cleaner environment should be welcomed by the American public and is the right direction in which to be heading.