May 19, 2009

New tough emissions standards

CARS/POLITICS - Its a new day in America, a day that car-loving environmentalists have been asking for decades.

United States President Barack Obama announced today a plan to curb vehicle emissions by 2013 by increasing engine efficiency.

In the White House Rose Garden earlier today, Obama outlined his administration's bold plan to end dependence on overseas oil by curbing vehicle emissions, calling the initiative a historic environmental and economic turning point toward a "clean-energy economy."

"As a result of this agreement, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years," said Obama, joined in his announcement by leaders of the auto industry, labour, government officials and key national and state political leaders.

"And at a time of historic crisis in our auto industry, this rule provides the clear certainty that will allow these companies to plan for a future in which they are building the cars of the 21st century."

The new emission standards is badly needed from an economic standpoint, not just for fuel savings, but because many American-built cars can't be sold overseas because they don't meet Asian or European efficiency standards. Upping the American standards will force American automakers to make cars both here (and for overseas) that can compete globally.

It also ends a state-by-state problem, wherein different American states had different emission standards, but they weren't easily enforced because people could just by a car across the state border (or in Canada or Mexico). The new consistency will make it easier for automakers to set the bar and stick to it.

The new national standard roughly mirrors the proposed California clean car standards, which sought to cut emissions by 30% by 2020. Obama's new plan? Cut 30% by 2016. Automakers have until 2013 to invest in R&D and get all their new cars up to snuff.

But that R&D will be fairly easy. European and Asian countries already have similar or much tougher standards. The recent purchase of General Motors by European automaker Fiat for example will give GM access to lots of R&D which will allow the company to build more lightweight cars with more efficient engines.

So we already have the technology, its just a matter of using it.

Americans buy over 27 million new cars per year. The new emission standards will reduce the number of gas guzzlers on the road by 177 million by 2016. Consumers will end up saving an average of approx. $1700 USD by paying less for gas (or more if gas prices skyrocket) over the next 6.5 years.

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