Obama Administration Gives Green Light to Cleaner Cars

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Environment Colorado

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation today proposed the first-ever uniform standards to improve fuel economy and reduce global warming pollution from new passenger vehicles.  The standards largely mirror those already adopted by 14 states.

“The Obama Administration has put America in the driver’s seat to become more energy independent.  This historic action will reduce our nation’s oil dependence, save consumers money at the pump, and cut global warming pollution,” said Environment Keith Hay, energy advocate for Environment Colorado.

The proposal follows an announcement by President Obama in May 2009 of an agreement, supported by the world’s largest automakers, the United Auto Workers, California and other states, EPA, and the Department of Transportation, to establish standards to reduce global warming pollution from new vehicles by 30 percent and achieve an average fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.  The standards will apply to cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles, which are responsible for almost 60 percent of all U.S. transportation-related global warming emissions, and will cover model years 2012 through 2016.

“We will carefully review the details of this important proposal to make sure it meets the goals President Obama established earlier this year for cutting pollution and oil use.  In particular, we encourage the Administration to include a backstop in the final rule to ensure that the goals for the program are met,” said Hay.


  • Passenger vehicles are the second largest source of global warming pollution nationwide.
  • The Clean Air Act allows (1) California to set auto emission standards that are stronger than federal standards (no such standards currently exist); and (2) other states to adopt those auto emission standards.
  • In 2005, California adopted first-of-their-kind standards requiring cars and light-duty trucks to limit their global warming pollution.  A total of 13 other states—Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—have adopted the tailpipe standards.
  • In 2007, Congress passed the first increase in fuel economy standards in 32 years; those standards require an average fuel economy of 35 miles-per-gallon by 2020.
  • In May of this year, President Obama announced that his administration would establish standards for new vehicles that would reduce global warming pollution by 900 million metric tons and save 1.8 billion gallons of oil over the life of the program (2012-2016).