Washington President Barack Obama plans to propose the first-ever national emission limits for cars and trucks as well as average mileage requirements of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 — all costing consumers an extra $1,300 per vehicle.
Obama’s plan couples for the first time pollution reduction from vehicle tailpipes with increased efficiency on the road. It would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil through 2016 and would be the environmental equivalent to taking 177 million cars off the road, senior administration officials said Monday night.
The plan also would effectively end a feud between automakers and statehouses over emission standards — with the states coming out on top but the automakers getting a single national standard and more time to make the changes.
The plan still must clear regulatory hurdles at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department. The administration officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the formal announcement by Obama was scheduled for today.
New vehicles would be 30 percent cleaner and more fuel efficient by the end of the program, according to officials familiar with the discussions. The officials also spoke on condition of anonymity because the formal announcement had not been made.
Administration officials said consumers were going to pay an extra $700 for mileage standards that had already been approved. The comprehensive Obama plan would add another $600 to the price of a vehicle, a senior administration official said.
The extra miles would come at roughly a 5 percent increase each year. By the time the plan takes full effect, at the end of 2016, new vehicles would cost an extra $1,300.
The cost would be recovered through savings at the pump for consumers who choose a standard 60-month car loan if gas prices follow government projections, according to one official.
In a battle over emission standards, California, 13 other states and the District of Columbia have urged the federal government to let them enact more stringent standards than the federal government’s requirements. The states’ regulations would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and trucks by 2016 — the benchmark Obama planned to unveil for vehicles built in model years 2012 and beyond.
The Obama plan gives the states essentially what they sought and more, although the buildup is slower than the states sought. In exchange, though, cash-strapped states such as California would not have to develop their own standards and enforcement plan. Instead, they can rely on federal tax dollars to monitor the environment.
A 2007 energy law requires carmakers to meet at least 35 mpg by 2020, a 40 percent increase over the current standard of about 25 mpg. Passenger car requirements have remained unchanged at 27.5 mpg since 1985, drawing complaints from environmental groups that the government has been slow to push automakers to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The auto industry will be required to ramp up production of more fuel efficient vehicles on a much tighter timeline than originally envisioned. It will be costly; the Transportation Department last year estimated that requiring the industry to meet 31.6 mpg by 2015 would cost nearly $47 billion.