WASHINGTON (Aug. 29)—Auto makers and other interested parties have until Nov. 23 to comment on a proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reform the standard for corporate average fuel economy for the nation's vehicle fleets.
The proposed plan would phase in the changes between model years 2008 and 2011, with all auto makers required to comply by 2011 with miles-per-gallon targets based on vehicle size, according to NHTSA. The agency is asking auto makers to comment on possible methods of meeting the reformed standards, including reduction of tire rolling resistance among many other options.
NHTSA estimates the new standard would save 10 billion gallons of gasoline and 39.4 million metric tons of carbon emissions over the lives of model year 2011 vehicles alone, but consumer and environmental groups claim the proposal represents little real improvement over current CAFE rules.
"What we need is visionary leadership, not a wimpy response to a national crisis," Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen and former NHTSA administrator, said in a statement on the Public Citizen Web site. The Rubber Manufacturers Association and Tire Industry Association declined comment on the proposal, with an RMA spokesman saying the rule has little apparent effect on tire makers.