WASHINGTON – President Obama’s announcement today regarding fuel economy and emissions standards for both passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks was welcomed by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Setting strong standards for all classes of motor vehicles would help curb U.S. oil dependence, create new jobs, reduce the heat-trapping emissions that drive global warming, and save consumers billions of dollars at the pump.
According to today’s announcement, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will start a process that will set the next round of fuel economy and global warming tailpipe standards for cars and light trucks. The historic standards finalized last month, which cover new vehicles through model year 2016, provide the foundation for the new standards. Meanwhile, President Obama announced that EPA and DOT will work together to set the first-ever national fuel economy and tailpipe pollution standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
“Success is contagious,” said Brendan Bell, a federal policy analyst with UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program. “Today’s announcement builds on the existing program and could deliver even greater oil savings, pollution reductions, and consumer savings in the future.”
Just a year ago, President Obama announced a landmark agreement supported by states, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), automakers and public interest groups that led to the largest increase in fuel economy for cars and light trucks in more than 30 years, as well as the first federal global warming tailpipe pollution standards.
Today’s announcement takes those standards to the next step by establishing a process for setting the next round of combined fuel economy and global warming tailpipe pollution standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. The standards would apply to new vehicles sold in model years 2017 and beyond. According to UCS analysis, raising the average fleetwide fuel economy of new vehicles to 55 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2030 would reduce oil consumption by 3.9 million barrels per day in that year, save consumers $158 billion — even after accounting for the cost of new technology — and cut heat-trapping emissions by 661 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent.
“This year, the United States finalized the largest increase in fuel economy for cars and light trucks in more than 30 years,” said Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer with UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program. “Building on that success could put every American driver behind the wheel of a significantly cleaner car.”
President Obama also announced a process to set the first-ever fuel economy and global warming tailpipe pollution standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The EPA and DOT will work together to draft the standards, which will cover vehicles such as delivery vans, concrete mixers, and freight trucks. A recent report by UCS and CALSTART found that increasing such vehicles’ fuel economy could create as many as 124,000 jobs nationwide and save truckers and consumers $24 billion through reduced fuel costs in 2030.
“Making heavy-duty trucks go farther on a gallon of fuel is good for the economy,” said Don Anair, a senior engineer with UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program and co-author of the truck report. “Putting fuel saving technologies to work will create tens of thousands of jobs and allow truckers to keep on truckin’ while saving at the pump.”
The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.