Driving toward a cleaner future

Today, EPA issued its second annual Manufacturer Performance Report on progress toward meeting the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks. This is essentially a detailed report card telling us how the industry and individual manufacturers are doing in complying with the standards for the 2013 model year. I’m pleased to say that, for the second year of the program, the auto industry is ahead of the curve.

Because the ultimate destination for this road trip is to nearly double fuel economy by 2025, a strong start is great news for the environment and public health, family budgets and America’s energy security. When EPA and the Department of Transportation announced the standards, the program was called a “Win-Win-Win.” A win for the environment and our health because it reduces the emissions that contribute to the greatest environmental threat of our time…. climate change. In fact we expect it to cut 6 billion metric tons of GHGs. A win for consumers because the fuel efficiency goals will save families money at the pump, adding up to more than $1.7 trillion in saved fuel costs over the life of the program. And finally, a win for energy independence. The policy is expected to reduce America’s dependence on oil by more than 2 million barrels per day by 2025.

Highlights from this year’s report tell us that automakers are adopting innovative technologies that increase fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • In 2013, the auto industry on average sold cars and light trucks that were 1.4 miles per gallon more efficient than required even though the standards get tougher every year. Less gas means fewer emissions.
  • All large manufacturers, representing more than 99% of sales, have met or exceeded both the 2012 and 2013 standards.

This program is spurring new technologies that reduce emissions even faster than anticipated. In 2013, two manufacturers implemented new air conditioning systems that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, new vehicle fuel economy achieved an all-time high, and today we have over three times as many 30 mpg vehicles on the market than just five years ago.

Some say that the lower gasoline prices that we have seen over the past months will stymie this policy and its success into the future. Fortunately, it’s not true. Lower gas prices do not threaten automaker compliance. Today’s CO2 and fuel economy standards were structured to accommodate changes in consumer choice. All vehicles, regardless of size, must improve each year, and manufacturers that sell larger vehicles have to improve their emissions rate incrementally just like those that sell smaller vehicles. No matter how fuel prices fluctuate, the American public can continue to buy the vehicles they want, and automakers can continue to meet future standards by developing innovative new technologies that benefit the environment and the economy.

This report reinforces for me that we CAN address climate change across all sectors with American ingenuity and the goal of a cleaner and safer tomorrow for our children and grandchildren to guide us.

Website: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/ghg-report.htm

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