Obama Finalizes Historic Clean Car Standards

Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center

Raleigh—The Obama administration finalized new clean car standards today that will double the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks over time, the largest single step the U.S. has ever taken to reduce oil dependence and cut carbon pollution.

“This is a monumental leap forward in tackling global warming pollution and getting North Carolina off oil,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina Director.

The standards will require new cars and light trucks to meet the equivalent of 54.5 miles-per-gallon standard by 2025.  A recent joint analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Union of Concerned Scientists projects the new rules would cut carbon pollution by more than 10 million tons in North Carolina alone—the same emitted by 1.5 million cars.

Thousands of North Carolinians, along with 282,000 Americans, submitted comments in support of the rules as they were being developed. Consumer groups also back the standards, which are projected to save North Carolinians more than $3.6 billion at the gas pump each year.

State Senator Dan Clodfelter, State Rep. Pricey Harrison, and more than a dozen representatives sponsored legislation in the 2007-2008 session to require North Carolina to join California and the 13 other states that pioneered the standards made national today.  At the time, automaker opposition stymied the legislation.  In the face of rising gas prices, economic collapse, and the recognition that more states were likely to join with California in requiring stricter standards, major automakers ultimately agreed to support new stricter standards for the nation as a whole.

The new rules announced today cover vehicles in model years 2017 through 2025.  In 2010, the administration improved standards for cars and light trucks in model years 2012 through 2016.  Prior to that year, fuel efficiency requirements had remained largely unchanged since the Reagan administration.

“Future generations may well look back on today as a decisive step toward breaking our destructive oil addiction,” said Ouzts.