Obama Administration Proposes Historic Clean Car Standards

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Bruce Ratain

Environment Illinois Research and Education Center

The Obama administration today officially proposed new clean car standards that represent the biggest step the U.S. has ever taken to get off oil and tackle global warming. The standards would require cars and light trucks in model years 2017-2025 to meet a fleet-wide average global warming pollution standard equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon. 

“The Obama administration’s clean cars proposal represents the biggest step ever taken to end America’s addiction to Big Oil,” said Bruce Ratain, Clean Energy Associate with Environment Illinois. “By making the cars and trucks of the future cleaner and more fuel efficient, these standards will reap big benefits for Illinois’s environment, our health and our economy.”

By 2030 the proposed standards would reduce annual global warming pollution by 280 million metric tons, roughly equivalent to shutting down 70 coal fired power plants for one year (i). In addition, in the same amount of time, the standards would cut oil use by as much as 23 billion gallons per year – an amount equivalent to our imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq in 2010. 

In Illinois alone, the proposed standards would generate annual savings of $1.19 billion—$240 per family—even after accounting for the cost of new technology, boost the state’s GDP by $2.85 billion and create 22,000 jobs by 2030 (ii).

Moving forward, the Obama administration is expected to conduct a public comment period and hold public hearings to gauge public opinion of the new standards, before finalizing the standards next year.

“For Illinoisans who want to raise their voice in support of getting off oil, these clean car standards and this public comment period offer the best opportunity in years,” said Ratain. “We look forward to helping demonstrate broad support for the strongest possible standards, and keeping them free of loopholes that would take away from the environmental and economic benefits for Illinois.” 


(i) These figures are from an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council. The projected annual global warming pollution reduction of 280 million metric tons in 2030 is equivalent to avoiding the annual emissions of 72 coal-fired power plants (assuming 3.9 million metric tons of pollution annually per power plant). The projected gasoline savings of 23 billion gallons of gasoline in 2030 are roughly equivalent to the 2010 U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

(ii) “More Jobs Per Gallon.” Ceres, 2011. http://www.ceres.org/press/press-releases/more-jobs-per-gallon