The Bush Administration has decided not to establish the final rules on new stricter fuel economy standards set to take effect in 2011. Though an energy bill mandating an average fuel efficiency of 35 miles per gallon for cars and trucks by 2020 was signed by President Bush in late 2007, specific figures and dates were not determined for the phase-in period between 2011 and 2015. President Bush passed the responsibility of determining specific timelines and rules to President-elect Obama.
President Bush was initially expected to make a determination before the end of 2008, but that changed when the slumping economy threatened the survival of Detroit’s Big Three automakers. The US Department of Transportation issued a statement: “The recent financial difficulties of the automobile industry will require the next administration to conduct a thorough review of matters affecting the industry.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had announced its formula to calculate fuel efficiency standards based on the footprint of vehicle lines—rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. But implementation of—and any changes to—those weight-based rules will now be left to Obama.
Obama’s administration will only have until April 1 to come up with the final rules and numbers, adding to the heavy load that is already on the new administration’s “to do” list. The April Fools Day deadline was established because the law stipulates that car manufacturers must receive at least 18 months notice before new standards take effect.
As reported by Automotive News, the Bush Administration issued a statement saying that it has “laid the groundwork for the next transportation department to come up with a ruling by the deadline.”