The Obama administration is reportedly considering taking the Natural Resources Defense Council up on its push to hike CAFE standards to 60 mpg by 2025. In fact, according to White House officials in a briefing conducted this morning, the EPA and Department of Transportation have set the range of numbers that they might recommend for the next adjustment in fuel economy standards at between 47 mpg and 62 mpg. Next year, the government will issue a draft of the proposed rule, specifying for the first time the number that it will seek.
The administration has already released a Notice of Intent to stakeholders like the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers for study, more than year before a final ruling is expected to be made. “The Alliance remains convinced that a single national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is the best approach for the environment, our customers, and our economy,” said the group in a press release today. “The Alliance is committed to working collaboratively with EPA, NHTSA and California to achieve these goals in a way that allows consumers to choose and afford vehicles that fit their needs.” The release serves as a reminder of how much things have changed since 2002, when AAM president Josephine Cooper said that a proposal similar to the standards that will take effect in 2012 “threatens jobs, the economy and family vehicles…”
But even as carmakers have capitulated on the need for a national fuel economy standard that will help to cut greenhouse gas emissions and steadily decrease the nation’s appetite for oil, it’s likely that they will fight to keep the the 2017-2025 CAFE numbers in the lower range of the possible numbers. “What we’re hoping for is that the regulation recognizes some of the uncertainty that still exists and allows flexibility to implement new technologies,” said Alliance spokesman Charles Territo last week.
But the push for 60 mpg has picked up a significant amount of steam since it was proposed by an NRDC-led coalition of scientists and interest groups earlier this month. Eight governors, representing New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Maryland and Maine have sent a letter to the Obama administration in support of the 60 mpg mark. “We have seen the automakers meet goals time and time again,” said the governors in their letter. “We are confident that technological improvements, including the plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles that they are rolling out, will increase efficiency and affordability further and will make 60 miles per gallon commonplace.”
Meanwhile, according to a poll released several weeks ago by the Mellman Group, a new 60 mpg standard also has the support of the American public. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they were in favor, with 83 percent saying that they’d be willing to pay and extra $3,000 per vehicle to meet the standard if it meant that they could expect to save at least as much money on fuel costs within four years of purchasing that vehicle.