WASHINGTON (May 19, 2009)—With the blessing of auto makers and auto workers alike, President Obama announced he will propose new standards that would mandate California-style emissions controls on vehicles throughout the U.S. and corporate average fuel economy of 35.5 mpg by 2016.
“The goal is to set one national standard,” Obama said as he unveiled the new plan, flanked by Congress and representatives of the major auto companies and the United Auto Workers union. The administration reached agreement with industry stakeholders on the proposal May 17.
The 2016 deadline is four years earlier than the 35-mpg fuel economy improvement plan Congress passed in 2007. The administration estimates the new rules will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil through 2016 and reduce emissions at the equivalent of removing 177 million vehicles from the road.
If passed by Congress and coordinated successfully through the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the standards will raise the cost of a vehicle by an estimated $1,300-$600 more than the CAFÃ law set to debut in 2020.
The Consumer Federation of America estimated that, at an estimated $3 a gallon for gasoline in 2016, the Obama plan would save each U.S. motorist nearly $500 per year, meaning the program would pay for added vehicle costs within three years.
But the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit organization that champions free markets and limited government, said the standards would force auto makers to produce vehicles that are smaller, lighter and less crashworthy.
Detailed proposals on the administration's CAFÃ and emissions plans will appear shortly in the Federal Register.