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July 29, 2011 

UCS Applauds Obama Administration Agreement on Fuel Efficiency & Auto Pollution Standards

Statement by Michelle Robinson, Director, Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles Program

WASHINGTON (July 29, 2011) –The Obama administration today unveiled an agreement with major automakers and the state of California on a framework to strengthen the nation’s fuel efficiency and auto pollution standards for new cars and light trucks. This proposal, which will apply to vehicles sold in model years 2017 to 2025, will set a global warming pollution standard of 163 grams per mile by 2025, the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) if met exclusively with fuel efficiency improvements, or a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard of 48-49 mpg assuming full use of air conditioning improvements. That would translate to a 2030 window sticker of about 36 mpg, up from 21 mpg today.

These standards build on the successful National Program for model years 2012 to 2016, which allows automakers to build a single national fleet to comply with Clean Air Act standards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), as well as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The following is a statement from Michelle Robinson, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Clean Vehicles program:

“These standards will give our cars and trucks a technology makeover. We will still see the same types of vehicles on the road, but they will be dramatically more fuel efficient, cost less to operate, and produce less pollution. For the second time, President Obama has brought together the auto industry, the states, and other stakeholders to support strong standards that will protect consumers from high gas prices, curb global warming pollution, cut our oil dependence, and create innovative jobs in the American auto industry. We applaud the Obama administration and California for moving forward with these important standards.

“The technology exists to make any car, truck or SUV cleaner and more fuel efficient, and these standards will unleash innovation in the auto industry.

“This agreement is an important step forward, but there are still parts of the plan that need to be resolved. If they aren’t implemented correctly, they could turn into loopholes. If automakers can meet the standards with accounting tricks instead of using better technology, the program’s overall benefits would be eroded. We look forward to working with the administration and different stakeholders to evaluate and revise these standards so they produce the best vehicles possible for consumers, the auto industry, the country and the planet.”

Based on UCS’s current understanding of the proposal and assuming no loopholes, UCS experts anticipate that the standards for model years 2017 to 2025 will deliver the following benefits in 2030 in addition to the benefits from the first round of standards:

  • Cut oil consumption by as much as 1.5 million barrels per day -- 23 billion gallons of gasoline annually -- by 2030. That is equivalent to U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq in 2010.
  • Cut carbon pollution by as much as 280 million metric tons (MMT) in 2030, which is equivalent to shutting down 72 coal-fired power plants.
  • Lower fuel expenditures at the pump by over $80 billion in 2030 -- even after paying for the cost of the necessary technology, consumers will still clear $50 billion in savings that year alone.


The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

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