Thursday, March 4, 2010

Obama Administration Announces Improved Federal CAFE Standards

Although Evergreen Fleets may be the nation's first Green Fleets certification program, it soon may have a large number of competitors, thanks to a groundbreaking new policy of the Obama Administration. 

The CAFE - Corporate Average Fuel Economy - standards that govern the fuel economy of the American auto industry have been significantly strengthened in a new federal policy. In a surprisingly progressive move given America's history of resistance to environmental regulation, the new CAFE standards explicitly link a reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions to improved fuel efficiency in our national fleet, the first time the CAFE standards have made such a connection in their history.

According to WorldChanging, a Seattle media non-profit, "covering vehicle model years 2012 to 2016, the legislation will require car makers to achieve an average fuel economy for their fleets of 35.5mpg in 2016 (with 39mpg specified for cars and 30mpg for light trucks). It will replace the current CAFE standard of 27.5mpg for cars and 24mpg for light trucks." 

The standards are very similar to a California proposal that, until a May 19, 2009 EPA waiver granted by Obama, had been declared unconstitutional by the Bush Administration. Before Obama's decision, seventeen other states had agreed to follow California's CAFE standards as soon as the EPA waiver was granted. Mr. Obama's new CAFE standards now supersede any state's CAFE standards and aim to bring the nation's cars and trucks to a fuel efficiency more on par with European standards.

Naturally, both California's efforts to unilaterally set its own CAFE standards and the new standards recently set by Obama generated enormous resistance from the auto industry. However, the new CAFE standards, assuming they are followed, are estimated to have the equivalent impact of saving 900 million tons of carbon or removing 3.7 million cars from the roads.

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