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White House unveils new national fuel economy goals

November 10, 2010

President Obama on May 21 announced two future vehicle fuel economy and emissions programs.

Tighter standards for light-duty vehicles get phased in during model years 2017 to 2025. First-ever fuel economy rules for commercial trucks and trailers take effect beginning with model year 2014.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency will jointly issue rules for both national programs.

Forrest McConnell, the regulatory affairs chairman for the National Automobile Trade Association, said the NADA supports a single national fuel economy standard, consistent with the program Congress designed and passed in 2007.

Under the administration’s plan, NHTSA will regulate fuel economy, along with EPA and possibly California. The latest announcement, McConnell said, raises several concerns:

1. It appears that the California Air Resource Board will play a significant role in the development of these national programs. The NADA does not support any undue deference to or influence by California’s unelected state air regulators.

2. The commercial truck program could require compliance at least two to three model years earlier than Congress contemplated in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2020 (MY 2014 vs. MY 2016). Beyond the extra regulatory costs, the NADA is concerned that this may not allow for adequate lead time.

3. How high to set fuel economy standards is based in part on the manufacturers’ product plans. Since vehicle manufacturers do not currently have product plans extending to MY 2025, the NADA is concerned that the government can only guess what fuel economy standards may be appropriate 15 years from now.

4. These new programs will mandate how new vehicles are built, not whether they are purchased. Since consumers, small businesses, and truckers will only buy what they want and can afford, program mandates must be technologically feasible and economically practical.

Otherwise, McConnell said the NADA is concerned that dealers, their employees, and the economy in general will suffer, without any environmental or national security benefits.

 

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