NY Dems Laud Obama Administration’s New National Fuel Efficiency Standards for Cars

New Standards Set First Ever Greenhouse Gas Pollution Standards for Cars and Provide More Certainty to Auto Industry

[NEW YORK, NY] – The Obama Administration announced today a new national standard for fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks and the first ever greenhouse gas pollution standards for cars. The new standard will set a limit for both tailpipe emissions and fuel economy requirements. The new rule will resolve an on-going conflict between state governments and the auto industry – who have been locked in a costly legal battle over states’ efforts to adopt more stringent standards than the current federal standards – by creating more protective requirements and setting a reliable and achievable timeline on which the new national standard will be implemented. The standards will make a great impact here in New York, where Governor Paterson has already taken steps to enhance New York’s commitment to the environment and to creating new clean energy jobs.

By 2016, the American fleet of cars and light trucks will be almost 40 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient than it is today, with an average of 35 miles per gallon. The new rules, which will be written jointly by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, will begin in model year 2012. The program is projected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and will achieve greenhouse gas reductions equivalent of taking 177 million cars off the road.

June O’Neill, New York State Democratic Committee Chair, issued the following statement after the announcement at the White House:

“Foreign and domestic auto industry executives, state governors, union leaders and other officials joined President Obama today to announce a new national standard that for the first time ever combines fuel efficiency requirements with limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

“Because of this new program, by 2016, the American fleet will be remarkably cleaner and more efficient. The Obama Administration’s new plan will go a long way toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil, lowering energy costs for New York families at the pump, and reducing harmful air pollution and global warming emissions from our cars’ tailpipes.

“It’s no secret that the American auto industry is fighting for its survival. Today’s announcement marks an historic agreement between the Administration, the states and the very companies who once vehemently opposed increases in fuel efficiency and downplayed or flat-out ignored the danger of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Considering the failure of the last administration to take any action to address climate change or to even identify carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions as dangerous, this new standard is a sea change in public policy. It will breathe new life into the industry by creating a strong, reliable market for fuel efficient cars, will drive technological innovation, and as gas prices rise, greater fuel efficiency will save New Yorkers money. In this single action, President Obama has reiterated his commitment to addressing the climate crisis and reviving America’s auto industry by ensuring that the next generation of  clean, efficient vehicles is manufactured right here in the United States.

“Governor Paterson has also been taking steps here in New York to make our state more environmentally sound and create new clean energy jobs. In early May, the Governor announced several environmental initiatives including the creation the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (known as NY BEST) –  the first of its kind research and development initiative which will help advance the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle; a commitment by 30 communities across the State to take the Climate Smart Communities Pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; a proposal, in partnership with Congressman Steve Israel to develop a “Smart Energy Corridor” on Long Island; and plans, along with the New York Power Authority, for the largest solar photovoltaic project in New York to help our state meet its energy needs.

“We have a long way to go to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, halt the deleterious effects of climate change, and fully restore the American auto industry. But today’s announcement is an important step forward. For the second time in as many weeks, today’s news – as was the historic agreement reached between the Administration and health care industry leaders last week – is a testament to President Obama’s visionary leadership and his outstanding ability to bring people together to develop pragmatic solutions to address our most serious challenges.”

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