The automotive industry managed to talk a bit of sense into the Obama administration and thereby save thousands of jobs and probably billions of dollars.
The administration in 2009 had brazenly announced it would change the law for fuel standards, raising the future Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standard by four years. Then, earlier this year, the administration laid out four mileage levels—as if to see what it could get away with.
It had called for future (CAFÉ) standards with the highest being 62 miles per gallon by 2025. Then it dropped the requirement to 56.2 mpg in 2025. Still too much to expect, said the industry.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers launched a barrage of radio ads in key battleground states charging that the 56.2 mpg fuel economy rules would mean job losses and higher car prices just when the industry is making a comeback.
The industry, which has fought mandatory CAFÉ since it was first enacted in 1975, is now, however, more willing to go along with the final standard of 54.5 mpg by 2025 (an increase of 5 percent a year in mpg starting in 2017). The industry agreed partly because of the reduction, plus consumers’ renewed interest in better mileage because of high gas prices, and because of more industry innovations.
The industry’s position of resistance to any higher standard was aided by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), which spent 11 months of extensive research with help of the National Research Council and other sources to examine the effects on mileage, car sales, prices, and other factors. It found the higher standards the administration first called for could raise the average price of a car by $10,000, cut auto sales by a third, and cost hundreds of thousands of car industry jobs in the U.S.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) formally unveiled their joint proposal to set the lower but somewhat tougher fuel economy and “greenhouse gas pollution standards” for model year 2017-2025 for passenger cars and light trucks. They began praising it as if it had been their proposal all along.
Cars, SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks are currently blamed by the petroleum-fearing bureaucrats for 60 percent of U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Their announcement was termed the latest in a series of executive actions the Obama administration is taking to “strengthen the economy and move the country forward because we can’t wait for Congressional Republicans to act,” as the heads of DOT and EPA phrased it in their totally non-partisan statement.
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