Proposals aim to make cars more fuel efficient

Fuel efficiency standards for new cars and light trucks will increase by 25% by 2015, under proposals announced by the US Transportation Secretary.

Mary Peters announced plans to increase the standards by 4.5% a year over the next five years – exceeding the 3.3% baseline proposed by Congress last year.

For passenger cars, it would increase the minimum fuel economy standards manufacturers have to achieve from the current 27.5miles per gallon to 35.7 by 2015.

For light trucks, it would increase from 23.5miles per gallon in 2010 to 28.6 miles per gallon in 2015.

“This proposal is historically ambitious, yet achievable,” Ms Peters said.

“It will help us all breathe a little easier by reducing tailpipe emissions, cutting fuel consumption and making driving a little more affordable.”

The proposals, which are the result of the Energy Independence and Security Act signed by President George Bush last year, are expected to save nearly 55bn gallons of fuel and an estimated 521m metric tons of CO2.

Environmental group The Sierra Club praised the proposals, but expressed its frustration that the federal government will not allow states to introduce additional greenhouse emissions standards for vehicles.

Ann Mesnikoff, Sierra Club’s Washington representative, said: “We are pleased with today’s proposal, but remain extremely disappointed that the Bush administration continues to block the efforts of California and more than a dozen other states to move forward with landmark greenhouse emissions standards for vehicles.”

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) echoed their sentiments.

Therese Langer, ACEEE’s transportation programme director, said: “Unfortunately this rule is marred by [the DOT’s] gratuitous attack on states’ actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.”

Under the proposed rule, fuel economy requirements would differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, as they will depend on the size mix of vehicles sold.

Ms Langer added: “We’ll be looking for a commitment to revisit the rule if average fuel economy gains fall short.”

Kate Martin

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