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Department of Transportation Confirms 54.5 MPG Fuel Economy Standard

The Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency announced today that the average fuel-economy standard for light cars and trucks will climb to 54.5 mpg by 2025. The agencies claim that the new rules for 2017-2025 will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the gas pump by 2025. The current EPA rules require automakers to meet a fleet average of 35.5 mpg by 2016.

In a conference call today, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the new rules will help protect the environment, save drivers money, and create new jobs. "Everyone wins when we reduce fuel use and carbon emissions," he said.

The agencies say that the 54.5-mpg standard will reduce oil consumption by two million barrels a day by 2025, and that it will reduce the nation's carbon dioxide emissions by six billion metric tons over the life of the program. For consumers, however, the benefit may take some time to arrive: though the ruling is expected to save the average driver $8000 in fuel costs over the life of a new 2025 vehicle, that vehicle is predicted to cost about $1800 more than an equivalent new car today.

LaHood said that his agency worked hand-in-hand with automakers, environmental groups, the United Auto Workers union, and the EPA to develop the fuel-economy rules. He says that the increased efficiency requirements will force automakers to add new jobs and new types of vehicles.

"We are also giving manufacturers the regulatory certainty they need to deliver efficient cars that deliver what consumers need," he said today. "As an added benefit, this era of innovation may lead to new jobs in the industry."

The EPA promises as-yet undisclosed "incentives" for the development electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel-cell vehicles; hybrid powertrains for large pickup trucks; natural gas vehicles; and fuel-saving technologies that reduce consumption in the real world, even if that's not demonstrated in EPA test labs.

EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson said that today's finalized rules are "essentially quite similar" to the draft proposal published last year. She said the requirements for increases in car fuel economy are more aggressive because the agencies recognize that improving truck and SUV fuel economy will take more time and research than doing so for cars.

"Cars are ramping down [in fuel consumption] quicker than trucks, and then trucks are catching cars at the end," Jackson said today, referring to the gradual increase in economy standards between 2017 and 2025.

Moreover, Jackson said she doubted that automakers would have any problem meeting the new rules.

"We know that these standards are both achievable and cost-effective," she said.

Jackson also said that the new economy rules will single-handedly save as much carbon dioxide as the U.S. produces in one year. She claimed the fuel savings for the average American consumer in 2025 will be equivalent to lowering the price of gas by $1 per gallon. There will be a mid-term evaluation in about five years to determine whether the standards are working effectively.

Source: Department of Transportation