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Back to the Future: CAFE > 40 MPG in 2016

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Over at Eschaton there's a nifty little mention of this. The new national one-size-fits-all standards

will combine California’s tough new auto-emissions rules with the existing corporate average fuel economy standard to create a single new national standard, the officials said. As a result, cars and light trucks sold in the United States will be roughly 30 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016.

The White House would not divulge details, but environmental advocates and industry officials briefed on the program said that the president would grant California’s longstanding request that its tailpipe emissions standards be imposed nationally. That request was denied by the Bush administration but has been under review by top Obama administration officials since January.

and are to be announced maybe as early as tomorrow.

I'm old, guys. I remember when we were talking about 40 mpg in US-made cars the first time, expecting it to be in place in 10 years or so. Jimmy Carter was in the White House and the 55 mph speed limit was new. But I've got one of the cars a US company -- Chrysler, no less -- built in pursuit of that goal. It's a 1986 Lebaron GTS. I routinely got more than 30 mpg with it, and I drove it like I stole it (it was that much fun to drive).

But Mr. Obama is planning to go further, putting in place new fuel economy rules that will combine the standards of California’s emissions law with the corporate average fuel economy program administered by the Department of Transportation. The effect will be a single national mileage rule that matches California’s strictest-in-the-nation standard.

Under the new standard, the national fleet mileage rule for cars would be roughly 42 miles a gallon in 2016. Light trucks would have to meet a fleet average of slightly more than 26.2 miles a gallon by 2016.

“This is a very big deal,” said Daniel Becker of the Safe Climate Campaign, a group that has pushed for tougher mileage and emissions standards with the goal of curbing the heat-trapping gases that have been linked to global warming. “This is the single biggest step the American government has ever taken to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Industry officials spoke on condition of anonymity about the program because they said they did not want to comment publicly in advance of the White House announcement.

For a wonder, the car companies aren't expected to kick too hard on this. Of course, there aren't that many left, and they're only going to have to get 3 more mpg out of trucks than they do now. Trucks are what they build and where they make their money.... so if by 2014 you haven't seen a 30 MPG pickup yet, you can blame that on the GOP too.

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Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

... because I don't see anything about changing the status of SUV's out of the "truck" category and back into the "car" category.

Submitted by jawbone on


Help me here, please!

Would be nice if Obama et al helped us, as well....

Every time since my beautiful '67 sparkling burgundy Mustang was totaled by some behemoth smashing into its sexy, sleek rear end and pushing its gorgeously shaped front into the car parked in front of it, I've looked for a US automaker's car which met my criteria: good mileage, good cargo space, tightly sweet handling, holds up well.

I haven't found one when I was in a car buying mode. I started with a German made, Chevy sold Opel (such a trunk, what rust), then a Honda Accord (Honda said it had fixed that rust problem around the windshield, but it hadn't; oh, well, great pick up, great mileage, plus hatchback, a real little runner), next a Mazda 626 GT (I still love that car; so well appointed, kickass turbo, great mileage, hatchback, handling to encourage me to go out of my way to find tight curves -- I had an accident that totaled that beaut); second Mazda 626 GT, but by then Mazda had cheaped out (while never as good, it still had great mileage and a turbo which never died, just had unending problems with the brakes and repairs got ever more expensive); then I went to a used car from my brother when the Mazda finally died out in WI).

I was going to get a Prius, but they were so hot they were selling for thousands above list. I found a dealer in NE NJ which didn't charge over list, and I made a small downpayment. But the car never came in--I later learned they kept two lists: one with no premium charge; the other, with highest priority, for buyers willing to pay the premium. Heh. By the time I learned that, I was in the used car and my savings were going to my Big Health Insurance parasite at higher and higher rates*.

My parasite's premiums could have bought several Priuses....

*Hey, Obama! If we go to single payer, everyone will have more disposable income! Wouldn't that be way cool, dude?

Submitted by jawbone on

and raising them-- would have done.

In the late 1970's, President Jimmy Carter implemented CAFE standards to combat an oil shortage driven by policies of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The standards raised fuel efficiency in American cars by 7.6 miles a gallon over six years, causing oil imports from the Persian Gulf to fall by 87 percent. Our economy grew by 27 percent during that period. Detroit, predictably, figured out how to build more fuel-efficient cars largely without reductions in size, comfort or power.

The CAFE standards worked so well that they produced an oil glut by 1986. That's when the Reagan administration intervened to rescue America's domestic oil industry from gasoline price collapse. Ronald Reagan's rollback of CAFE standards caused America, in that year, to double oil imports from the Persian Gulf nations and to burn more oil than is in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

According to a recent report by Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, if the United States had continued to conserve oil at the rate it did in the period from 1976 to 1985, it would no longer have needed Persian Gulf oil after 1985. Had we continued this wise course, we might not have had to fight the Persian Gulf war, and we would have insulated ourselves from price shocks in the international oil market. Fuel efficiency is a sound national energy policy, economic policy and foreign policy all wrapped into one. Every increase of one mile per gallon in auto fuel efficiency yields more oil than is in two Arctic National Wildlife Refuges. An improvement right now of 2.7 miles per gallon would eliminate our need for all Persian Gulf oil!

Thank you, St. Ronnie, for relaxing those CAFE standards.... That turned so well.

From Frugal

Submitted by jawbone on

No Way.

The CAFE standards started at a shamefully low level in 1978 when auto companies selling cars in the United States were first required to meet a meager 18 mile per gallon (mpg) auto fleet standard. In 1981 Joan Claybrook, now the President of Public Citizen, was the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As the administration of President Jimmy Carter was winding down, Claybrook advanced a NHTSA notice that called for fuel efficiency standards to reach 48 mpg by 1995. Interestingly the notice pointed out that the auto industry itself said it could reach in excess of 30 mpg fuel economy by 1985 with GM saying it could do 33 mpg. The Reagan Administration didn't waste any time and withdrew the NHTSA notice just three months after it was issued. After the original Congressional mandate of 27.5 mpg took effect in 1985, the Reagan Administration rolled the standard back to 26 mpg in 1986. Finally in 1989 the first Bush Administration moved the standard back to the 1985 level of 27.5 mpg. There was no improvement in the CAFE standards underthe Clinton Administration.

From The Nader Page.

I couldn't remember just where Carter left things, so I had to look things up. St. Ronnie's actions were worse than I remembered.