New car standards good for air, reduced oil dependence

The Obama Administration this week finalized new fuel efficiency standards leading to cars and light duty trucks that achieve 54.4 miles per gallon by 2025.

There is much to like about the fuel efficiency standards, which have the support of the 13 major automakers responsible for 90 percent of the vehicles sold in the United States.

Energy efficient vehicles move this country away from dependence on foreign oil. The fuel efficiency programs already in place and improving over the next decade will reduce oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day by 2025. That’s the equivalent of about half of the oil we import from OPEC each day.

It’s abundantly clear that oil is a finite resource, but a resource the global economy still leans on heavily. Anything the government and auto industry can do to significantly reduce consumption helps to stretch those supplies out while innovators work on new technologies to transition from the fossil fuel economy.

The fuel efficiency standards also represent one of the few success stories in the bid to reduce carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. The standards should cut emissions from cars and small trucks by 50 percent by 2025. It represents a carbon dioxide emission reduction of 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program. Put another way, the CO2 reductions are more than all of the carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010.

With gas prices once again above the $4 per gallon mark this summer, consumers know just how big of bite fuel for vehicles takes out of a household budget. Federal officials estimate that a family buying a 2025 model car will see a fuel savings of about $8,000 over the life of the vehicle. That’s comparable to lowering the price of gas by about $1.

Consumers are already gravitating to energy efficient vehicles entering the market place. There are gas-powered cars on the market achieving 40 mpg on the freeway without compromising comfort, safety and acceleration. There’s ample reason to believe that the auto industry can and will take advantage of a variety of new technologies as it transitions to the cars of the future.

Some of the technologies already available include: advanced gasoline engines and transmissions, vehicle weight reductions, lower tire rolling resistance, improved aerodynamics and improvements in air conditioning systems.

The federal fuel efficiency program also provides incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicles that utilize fuel cells.

The fuel efficiency standards provide an opportunity for America to lead the way to a new transportation future that other nations can and should emulate.