New vehicle mileage standards announced

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The Obama administration today announced that it has finalized standards for cars and trucks that will have them getting an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025 and save the equivalent of half the oil the U.S. currently imports.

The standards, developed in conjunction with automakers and environmental and consumer groups, will nearly double the fuel economy compared with vehicles currently on the road, the administration said.

"Today is a monumental day for the American people, the U.S. auto industry and this administration's efforts to make our cars more efficient, helping families save more at the pump while still preserving consumer choice," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a conference call with reporters.

He and Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the fuel savings realized by the typical driver will reach $8,000 over the life of a vehicle purchased in 2025 -- well exceeding their estimate of an $1,800 per vehicle increase in price caused by the higher standards.

President Barack Obama began negotiations with automakers last year, aiming for a 56 mpg standard in hopes of reducing emissions and oil consumption. Today's announcement said the new standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump and cut U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.

"These fuel standards represent the single most important step we've ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Mr. Obama said in a statement released this afternoon. "This historic agreement builds on the progress we've already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption. By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today. It'll strengthen our nation's energy security, it's good for middle class families and it will help create an economy built to last."

The administration's previous standards for model years 2011 to 2016 require fuel efficiency in the final year equivalent to 35.5 mpg.

Ms. Jackson said that when Mr. Obama took office, fuel efficiency standards hadn't been upgraded since the mid-1980s.

"In the space of three years we have been able to make long-overdue progress that is cleaning up the air we breathe, making our energy future more secure, helping create new jobs and saving drivers money," she said. breaking - Transportation

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868.


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