DOT and EPA to Work with CARB for Tighter Tailpipe Standards

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will begin the process of developing tougher greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for passenger cars and trucks built in model years 2017 through 2025. This will build on the success of the first phase of the national program covering cars from model years 2012-2016.

The program is a key part of the administration’s energy and climate security goals, which call for the increased domestic production and use of existing, advanced, and emerging technologies to strengthen the auto industry and enhance job creation in the United States. Continuing the national program will help make it possible for manufacturers to build a single national fleet of cars and light trucks that satisfies all federal and California standards, while ensuring that consumers have a full range of vehicle choices.

“Continuing the successful clean cars program will accelerate the environmental benefits, health protections and clean technology advances over the long-term. In addition to protecting our air and cutting fuel consumption, a clear path forward will give American automakers the certainty they need to make the right investments and promote innovations,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We will continue to work with automakers, environmentalists and other stakeholders to encourage standards that reduce our addiction to foreign oil, save money for American drivers, and clean up the air we breathe.”

In a May 21, 2010 memorandum, President Obama directed EPA and DOT issue a Notice of Intent (NOI) that would lay out a coordinated plan, to propose regulations to extend the national program and to coordinate with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in developing a technical assessment to inform the NOI and subsequent rulemaking process.

Consistent with the memorandum, the NOI includes an initial assessment for a potential national program for the 2025 model year and outlines next steps for additional work the agencies will undertake. Next steps include issuing a supplemental NOI that would include an updated analysis of possible future standards by Nov. 30. As part of that process, the agencies will conduct additional study and meet with stakeholders to better determine what level of standards might be appropriate. The agencies aim to propose actual standards within a year.

The national program is intended to save consumers money by cutting down on fuel costs, improve our nation’s energy security by reducing dependence on petroleum, and protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas pollution that leads to climate change. Climate change is the single greatest long-term global environmental challenge. Cars, SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks are responsible for 57 percent of U.S. transportation petroleum use and almost 60 percent of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

"After decades of stagnation, fuel efficiency is now making steady progress toward much higher levels," said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Executive. "Setting an ambitious course for vehicle improvements well into the future will allow the auto industry to invest with confidence in new technologies."

"Sixty miles per gallon is the right target for 2025," said Therese Langer, Transportation Program director. "That will put us well on the road to reduced oil dependence, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, a revitalized auto industry, and a 21st century economy." A fuel economy standard of 60 miles per gallon would more than double the oil savings of the 2012-2016 standards adopted in April of this year, resulting in savings from the two stages together of over 5 million barrels of oil per day in 2030, according to ACEEE analysis.

Some scenarios considered by the agencies include substantial sales of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles by 2025. These vehicles can dramatically reduce oil consumption, but their climate benefits are less certain. Until carbon emissions from U.S. power plants are greatly reduced, an electric vehicle may emit more than a hybrid vehicle. "We urge the EPA to fully account for the emissions associated with plug-in vehicles in the standards," said Langer. "That will help ensure that vehicle electrification moves us toward a cleaner power grid."