Intelligent Energy

Obama's fuel rules to halve greenhouse emissions, dramatically reduce oil imports

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The Obama administration is expected to implement an aggressive fuel standards policy that would cut in half greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and light trucks by 2025, also substantially reducing oil consumption.

Republican Mitt Romney vows to overturn the rules, which he favored increasing just years ago, if elected.

The Obama administration is expected to implement an aggressive fuel standards policy that would cut in half greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and light trucks by 2025, also substantially reducing oil consumption.

Multiple press reports today revealed that the EPA has finalized its strict 54.5 miles per gallon corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, rules to be met by 2025. The new standard will incrementally raise standards to 34.5 mpg onward from 2016, and represents a significant increase in CAFE.

The target for 2025 was just 30 mpg before President Obama took office. Better fuel economy was a focus of the administration's auto bailouts that successfully permitted Chrysler and General Motors to remain in business. Republican critics say that the rules are intended to favor domestic automakers over foreign competitors. The Obama administration negotiated the standards with manufacturers.

President Obama's competitor, soon-to-be Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said that he would repeal the standards, and is now opposed to the government regulating emissions whatsoever. Romney's energy plan favors fossil fuel production or conservation or renewable energy sources.

Governor Romney was channeling Al Gore before he decided to run for President (again). In 2007, he said:

"I'm hopeful that with $3 gas being charged by Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinejad and Putin and others, that you're going to see Americans slowly but surely move to vehicles that are far more fuel efficient and you'll see our manufacturers start competing on the basis of fuel efficiency."

2007 Romney would be happy to know that the CAFE rule's net effect would put the U.S on track to halve its oil consumption within 20 years, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) said in a statement today. Global warming pollution levels for 2025 models would be 50% less than today, it added.

USC noted that CAFE would reduce oil use by up to 3.1 million barrels per day by 2030. That's more oil than the U.S. currently imports from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela combined, it said. The standards would also save drivers US$8,000 over the life of a 2025 model; 570 million metric tons of pollutants would be saved in 2030 if the rules are not overturned by a Romney Presidency.

"This is truly a watershed moment. Twenty years from now we'll be looking back on this as the day we chose innovation over stagnation," said Michelle Robinson, director of UCS's Clean Vehicles program. "These standards will protect consumers from high gas prices, curb global warming pollution, cut our oil use, and create new jobs in the American auto industry and around the nation."

UCS was founded in in 1969 by a group of scientists and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to promote the use of science for public interest. It is strongly opposed to any political interference in scientific research.

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure