Politics

President Obama Announces Gas Mileage Standards

President Obama Announces Gas Mileage Standards

Pres. Obama today announced plans to raise auto gas mileage standards and cut the emission of greenhouse gases in what he called the start of the "clean energy economy." Mr. Obama says the better mileage will pay for the average $1300 increase in the cost of a car in a few years, but that might not apply to people who drive gas guzzling SUVs.

Mr. Obama wants to push up the effective date of the 35 mile a gallon fuel economy standard former Pres. Bush approved in the 2007 energy bill, from 2020 to 2016. Administration officials say the increase in fuel efficiency was already going to add about $700 to the average price of a car and speeding it up will cost another $600, but that's an average price.

Some smaller hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion already meet the higher mileage standards, which for their class of car will be 39 miles to the gallon. The difficulty will come in getting big SUVs like Chevy Suburbans to average 30 miles a gallon, which will be the requirement for their class. That's nearly twice as much as many of them get right now and it's likely to cost a lot of money to increase their efficiency that much, meaning the price of an SUV is likely to jump a lot more than that of a smaller car.

The President is using the 2007 Supreme Court ruling that carbon dioxide is a pollutant to give the EPA the authority to add it to the other auto tailpipe emissions it already regulates. Administration officials say a 30% reduction would eliminate 900 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and they say a 30% increase in fuel economy would reduce our oil imports by 1.8 billion barrels, between 2016 and 2020. That's the equivalent, they say, all the oil imported during a year, from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya and Syria. It's also the equivalent of taking 58 million cars off the road for an entire year.

Mr. Obama announced the changes in a Rose Garden ceremony backed by auto industry and labor leaders, government officials and environmentalists, groups he noted had often fought with and sometimes even sued one another. Aides say he ended the feuds by giving environmentalists the higher standards they wanted and convincing states to accept a single, national standard, which gave automakers and unions the predictability they wanted.

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Wendell Goler serves as a senior White House and foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC), joining the network in 1996.