Cars, sport utility vehicles, minivans, pickup trucks used for personal transportation and passenger vehicles emit about 60% of all mobile-source greenhouse gases—the nation’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

That’s why EDF President Fred Krupp believes the new standards for vehicle emissions and fuel economy offer a “trifecta” of benefits:

  1. Less dependence on Middle Eastern oil
  2. Less pollution
  3. More savings at the gas pump

“Cleaner cars will deliver immediate results as the Senate finishes work on bipartisan climate and energy legislation,” he says.

What the Future Holds

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expect automobile manufacturers to meet the new standards by more widespread adoption of conventional technologies already in commercial use, such as more efficient engines, transmissions, tires, aerodynamics and materials, as well as improvements in air-conditioning systems.

And while the standards can be met with such technologies, EPA and NHTSA also predict some manufacturers will pursue more advanced fuel-saving technologies, including hybrid vehicles, clean diesel engines, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles.

“These historic new standards set ambitious, but achievable, fuel economy requirements for the automotive industry that will also encourage new and emerging technologies,” confirms Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “We will be helping American motorists save money at the pump, while putting less pollution in the air.”

The Automakers’ Perspective

Even the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) seems to approve.

“We have long supported a single, national program that provides clear guidance for AIAM members to meet these important program goals, and these regulations harmonize the efforts of EPA and the Department of Transportation to do just that,” says Michael J. Stanton, the organization’s president and CEO.

Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, agrees.

“America needs a roadmap to reduced dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gases, and only the federal government can play this role,” he says.

“A year ago, the auto industry faced a regulatory maze resulting from multiple sets of inconsistent fuel economy/greenhouse gas standards,” he adds. “NHTSA was promulgating new fuel economy standards required by Congress under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, while EPA was preparing greenhouse gas standards under the Clean Air Act.

“Meanwhile, California and 13 other states were planning their own state-specific greenhouse gas standards. When our engineers struggle with changing or conflicting laws, it derails efforts to introduce new technologies with long-term research and development timeframes. The national program announced [Thursday] makes sense for consumers, for government policymakers and for automakers.”

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