America’s vehicles are about to get a little greener. This week, the White House is finalizing rules that will set the first national standard for controlling the country’s car and truck emissions. The new regulations aim to raise vehicles’ fuel economies to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, a 42 percent increase from the current average of 25 miles per gallon.
The regulation comes after an EPA study found that greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles contribute to air pollution, endangering human health. According to the EPA, the higher fuel economy standards will reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 900 million tons and save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of vehicles built during the 2012 to 2016 model years. To put those massive figures into perspective, the US demand for oil is currently about 19 million barrels per day!
While the new standards represent a huge increase over the average fuel economy, many new vehicles (especially hybrids) already get 35 miles per gallon or more. Still, the legislation is significant because it sets the first national standard for car and truck emissions. Previously, emissions standards were dictated by states.
The EPA and Department of Transportation submitted the final rules this week to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The new fuel economy standards will be phased in beginning with the 2012 model year and aim to achieve an average fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.