- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it wants cars and light trucks to average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 to reduce fuel consumption and curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the proposed fuel-economy standard is aggressive but achievable and would create a “new era for the automobile industry.”

The standard, if adopted, would reduce annual oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels and cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 950 million metric tons a year - the equivalent of taking 42 million cars off the road, Mrs. Jackson said.

Cars and trucks account for 30 percent of the nation’s greenhouse-gas emissions, considered a major contributor to global warming.

The administration estimated the requirements would cost up to $1,300 per new vehicle by 2016, but improved gas mileage would save more than $3,000 over the life of the vehicle.

President Obama announced plans in May to adopt a higher national fuel-economy standard, which has not changed in more than 25 years. Industry experts expect fuel-economy and carbon-regulation standards to be finalized by March 30.

The new standards phase in four years ahead of a 2007 law that would have required the auto industry to meet a 35 mpg average by 2020.

During a visit to a General Motors Co. plant in Lordstown, Ohio, on Tuesday, the president said implementing the new standard “will give our auto companies some long-overdue clarity, stability and predictability.”

The proposal would require cars and light-duty vehicles to average 25 mpg by 2012 and increase that standard to 35.5 mpg by 2016.

Mrs. Jackson said that the proposal would complement tougher standards already in place in California and a dozen other states.

Mr. LaHood said that tougher fuel-economy standards would spur advancements in auto technology.

The fuel-efficiency proposal puts pressure on EPA to create guidelines for how it would regulate carbon dioxide from stationary sources. By law, once the agency begins to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions from cars, it must regulate all carbon-dioxide emitters.

The agency sent a draft proposal last month to the White House that would only regulate the nation’s heaviest emitters - those that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. The draft proposal could become official as soon as this fall.

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