After 30 years of tug-of-war between the government and car companies, the EPA put a limit on the greenhouse gases that a car or light truck can expel from its tailpipe last week, marking the first time that the feds have put a cap on the gases that are responsible for global warming. By 2016, cars will get an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, which is about 40 percent better than the fleet gets today, reported The New York Times.
“This is a significant step toward cleaner air and energy efficiency and an important example of how our economic and environmental priorities go hand-in-hand,” said Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, according to the article.
The auto industry objected to the additional cost of compliance, but largely approved of the nationwide standard, which is based on a 2004 California law, saying that it will allow them to build cars that can be sold throughout the country and not just for a regional market.
“This as an example of where the federal government has actually done something right,” said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, reported the Times. “A year ago we were facing piecemeal policies set out by E.P.A., D.O.T. and groups of different states. Our auto engineers cannot design vehicles to different standards.”
Like a dark cloud, lawsuits threaten to rain down on the regulation. Already Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli II says he will fight the new standard in federal appeals court by filing the lawsuit later this month, an E&ENews story reported.
Environmentalists, however, applaud the restriction, saying that it’s a step towards reducing the gases, like carbon dioxide, that cause climate change. “According to White House estimates, the new rules will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 1 billion metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles covered, or roughly the equivalent of taking 50 million cars and trucks off the road in 2030. Vehicles purchased under the new rules will conserve an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil over their lifetime,” says a story from Greenwire.
The EPA is also working on developing greenhouse gas standards for emitters that don’t move, including power plants. Numerous news sources, however, have reported that the agency won’t release those until January 2011 at the earliest.