Historic Fuel Efficiency and Auto Pollution Standards Finalized

54.5 Mpg-Equivalent Standard a Big Step toward Halving U.S. Oil Use within 20 Years, Science Group Says

Published Aug 28, 2012

WASHINGTON (Aug. 28, 2012) – The finalization of historic new federal automobile standards covering new passenger vehicles sold between 2017 and 2025 is one of the biggest actions ever taken to reduce U.S. oil use and a huge step on the path toward halving the country’s projected consumption within 20 years, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) said today.

Under the new standards, which arose from a widely supported agreement between automakers, the White House, and California state officials, average fuel economy for new cars and light trucks would nearly double, and global warming pollution levels for the new vehicle fleet would be cut in half by model year 2025.

“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.”  

The new standards build on a similar set of regulations that are already saving consumers money at the pump and cutting oil use. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation are implementing the standards for model years 2012 through 2016, which allow automakers to produce a fleet of vehicles that simultaneously complies with both the Clean Air Act and Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

According to UCS analysis, the combined standards will:

  • Cut oil use by as much as 3.1 million barrels per day by 2030 – roughly the amount we import from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela combined;
  • Save consumers $8,000 over the life of a model year 2025 vehicle, compared to the average vehicle on the road today, even after paying for fuel-saving technology; and
  • Reduce U.S. global warming pollution by as much as 570 million metric tons in 2030, the equivalent of taking a third, or 85 million, of today’s cars and trucks off the road for an entire year.

In addition to support from automakers, lawmakers, scientists, consumer advocates, environmental groups, and national security experts, a recent poll from the Consumer Federation of America found that 74 percent of Americans support the new standards. Most respondents also said they want higher fuel economy in their next vehicle purchase, but despite this deep popularity and the many benefits of the standards, a vocal minority continues to speak out against the rules.

“If you are against these common-sense standards, you are against saving consumers money, against consumer choice, and for leaving our economy open to being crippled yet again by our expensive oil use,” said Robinson.

Automakers are already producing cleaner, more efficient vehicles that meet the standards.

“From advanced engines and transmissions to hybrid powertrains, automakers are already demonstrating what they can do with fuel-efficient technology,” said Jim Kliesch, research director for the Clean Vehicles program. “Thanks to these standards, this is just the beginning of the fuel-saving choices consumers will have on the showroom floor.”

The new standards are a critical step to turn around our nation’s growing rate of oil consumption, and just one of many. By tapping deeper into existing efficiency technology and promoting innovative solutions here in the United States, our nation can build on the groundwork these standards create and put the nation on a course to cut its projected oil use in half over a 20-year period.

UCS’s Half the Oil Plan lays out a practical and feasible path to reach that goal, and includes technologies and policies that make passenger vehicles and commercial trucks more efficient, hybrid and electric vehicles more practical, and vehicle fuels less polluting.

“Automakers are already showing us what they can do with a skilled and determined workforce,” Robinson said. “We need to build on that groundwork and take an even bigger bite out of our oil consumption.”

Click here to learn more about the new standards and the role they play in long-term oil savings.