Obama Admin. Finalizes Historic Clean Car Standards

California’s Leadership Once Again in Spotlight

Environment California Research & Policy Center

Today the Obama administration finalized new clean car standards that will double the fuel efficiency of today’s vehicles by 2025, drastically reducing emissions of carbon pollution and cutting oil use nationwide.  The standards will cover new cars and light trucks in model years 2017-2025, and require those vehicles to meet the equivalent of a 54.5 miles-per-gallon standard by 2025. 

“This is a monumental leap forward in the must-win battle to tackle global warming and get the U.S. off oil,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Global Warming and Clean Energy Program Director for Environment California Research & Policy Center. “I believe future generations will look back and see this as a decisive step the nation took toward breaking our oil addiction.” 

A recent joint analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Union of Concerned Scientists projects that by 2030 the standards will cut carbon pollution from vehicles in the United States by 270 million metric tons—the equivalent of the annual pollution of 40 million of today’s vehicles—and save 1.5 million barrels of oil every day. 

Together with the Obama administration’s standards covering vehicles in model years 2012-2016, the new standards and their projected cuts in carbon pollution represent the largest single step the U.S. has ever taken to tackle global warming. 

The NRDC/UCS analysis also projects that consumers will save more than $50 billion due to savings at the gas pump that will result from the fuel efficiency improvements required by the new standards.  

More than 282,000 Americans submitted comments in support of the standards as they were being developed, and they enjoy the support of the major automakers, consumer groups and the environmental community.    

Del Chiaro pointed out that just as important as the standards themselves is the story of how they came to be.  Long before the Obama administration took office, California and 13 other states were developing and implementing their own state-level clean car standards. Beyond charting a path for pollution reductions for those states, these standards also pushed automakers to begin developing the cleaner cars that we see on the road today.  That paved the way for the Obama administration to first set the first-ever federal carbon pollution standards for vehicles in model years 2012-2016, followed by today’s standards for model years 2017-2025. 

“Without the leadership of California and the other leading states that adopted state-level standards, we likely wouldn’t have any federal standards to celebrate today,” said Del Chiaro. “California should take pride in knowing that the Obama administration is following our lead in getting cleaner cars on the road.”