To battle its dependence on foreign oil and to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama White House is proposing that the US auto industry achieve a fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.  The current fleet average is 24 mpg.

In April the administration had already ruled that the target will be raised to 35.5 m.p.g. by 2016.

The new agreement would by 2025 cut US oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day – as much as half of the oil imported from OPEC each day, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. By 2030, it would also lower annual costs at the gas pump by more than $80 billion and cut annual carbon emissions from vehicle tailpipes by the equivalent output of 72 coal-fired power plants, according to a tally by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The US imports about $700 billion dollars worth of foreign oil each year.

To reach the 54.5 mpg goal US automakers must increase mileage 5 percent each year between 2017 to 2025.  Light trucks would progress more slowly at 3.5 percent annually from 2017 to 2021, accelerating to 5 percent annually from 2022 to 2025.

The auto industry is behind the deal having negotiated major concessions that enable it to meet the mileage standards with existing technologies. GM, Ford Chysler, Hyundai, Nissan and Honda have given their endorsement.  Hyundai has already met the 35 mpg target with its 2011 Sonata and last year announced its plans for a fleet average of at least 50 mpg by 2025.

The deal represents a compromise “win” for environmentalists, who had pushed for standards of 62 m.p.g. by 2025. Automakers initially responded that 45 m.p.g. was the highest they could go, saying the tougher standards would diminish profits and require building mainly electric and hybrid vehicles.

Some environmentalists are not cheered by Obama’s proposal.  They point out that loopholes could enable automakers to achieve the federal standard through technical means that save less gasoline than it might appear. For example, extra mileage credits will be granted for mild hybrid and strong hybrid pickups, and special credits will be granted for technologies such as louvered grills and solar roof cells.

While the president’s proposal is a significant acceleration in the fight against global warming and oil addiction, it was weakened by auto industry lobbying,” Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, said in a statement. “Automakers have seeded it with loopholes that weaken the oil, pollution and gas-pump savings.”

Other environmentalists see it as a great leap forward.  Vermont Senator Bernard Sanders said: “By moving to 54.5 mpg, we can eliminate our reliance on Mideast oil by 2030 while cutting greenhouse emissions and creating  jobs.”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,