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New fuel economy standards would boost average car to 54.5 mpg

August 28, 2012|By Neela Banerjee
  • New proposed fuel economy standards from the Obama administration would nearly double average vehicle mileage.
New proposed fuel economy standards from the Obama administration would… (Philippe Huguen / AFP/Getty…)

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Tuesday announced the final version of proposed landmark fuel-economy standards that would almost double the average gas mileage for each automaker's passenger vehicle fleet to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Initially proposed a year ago, the final rules mark the latest step in a lengthy campaign by the administration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption. They build on the administration's ambitious standards that raise the average to 35.5 mpg over five years, ending with the 2016 model year.

The latest standards would be phased in starting with the 2017 model year. For 2012, makers of light trucks and passenger vehicles must attain an average of 28.7 mpg across their fleets. Already, the average fuel economy of the fleets exceeds that standard, at 28.9 mpg.

The White House touted the standards as a boost for middle-class consumers. "These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said President Obama. "This historic agreement builds on the progress we've already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption."

The campaign of the president's challenger, Mitt Romney, was quick to condemn the final rules as impractical and harmful.

"Gov. Romney opposes the extreme standards that President Obama has imposed, which will limit the choices available to American families," said campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "The president tells voters that his regulations will save them thousands of dollars at the pump, but always forgets to mention that the savings will be wiped out by having to pay thousands of dollars more upfront for unproven technology that they may not even want."

Automakers welcomed the standards as giving them the certainty they need to make manufacturing plans far into the future. If the new rules prove too onerous or expensive, as critics say, automakers and the federal government will have a chance to review the standards as part of a midterm assessment, set to occur in April 2018.

"We all want to get more fuel-efficient autos on our roads," said Gloria Bergquist of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry lobbying group. "And a single, national program with a strong midterm review helps us get closer to that shared goal."

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neela.banerjee@latimes.com

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