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August 14, 2012

54.5 MPG: This Is a Big Deal

Later this month, President Obama is expected to finalize historic vehicle efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for passenger cars and trucks sold from 2017-2025. When combined with previously announced standards for vehicles sold from 2012-2016, these standards will double the fuel efficiency of new vehicles by 2025, to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg. This is a big deal -- right now passenger cars and trucks are responsible for roughly half of all the oil burned in the country, and about one-fifth of our nation's carbon pollution. 

The efficient vehicles resulting from new standards will slash our dependence on oil, cut carbon pollution and save consumers money at the pump. Let's take a quick look at the numbers on our vehicle standards infographic.

Mpg infographic

According to joint analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the two rounds of standards combined are expected to save 3.1 million barrels of oil per day in 2030. That's the amount of oil we currently import from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela combined. By burning less oil and improving vehicle air conditioning systems, the standards will keep 570 million metric tons of greenhouse gases out of our atmosphere in 2030 -- that's nearly 10 percent of current U.S. greenhouse gas emissions!

More efficient vehicles will save consumers money at the pump. A family that buys a new vehicle in 2025 will save $8,000 compared to the average vehicle on the road today, even after paying for fuel-saving technology. That's money that can be reinvested in local economies, instead of being sent overseas to pay for big oil. It adds up, too. Combined, Americans are expected to save $140 billion in 2030 as a result of the standards, again that's after paying for new fuel-saving technologies.

By setting standards through 2025, President Obama is giving automakers the certainty they need to innovate and thrive. Already automakers have technologies that can help meet these standards  --advanced transmissions, start/stop engines, and strong, lightweight materials. The innovation and manufacturing of vehicles as a result of these standards will create jobs -- in the auto industry and throughout the economy. The Blue Green Alliance projects that the second round of standards alone (from 2017-2025) will create roughly 570,000 jobs.

When the President finalizes new vehicle efficiency standards, he'll have the support of U.S. automakers, autoworkers, and environmental groups. That's because the benefits, for the economy, for workers, and for environment, are significant. So when you see stories later this month about vehicle standards of 54.5 miles per gallon, remember that it's a big deal.

-- Jesse Prentice-Dunn, Green Transportation

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