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Published on November 30th, 2016 | by James Ayre


US EPA Moves To Keep Current Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) In Place Through 2025

November 30th, 2016 by  

Presumably for political reasons, the US Environmental Protection Agency has moved to extend the current vehicle fuel economy CAFE standards in place through 2025, according to emails sent to CleanTechnica from various organizations.


To be more specific, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a proposed decision on the CAFE fuel efficiency standards which were set by the current Obama Administration back in 2012.

The proposed decision simply maintains the current standards — which will lead to the reduction of carbon emissions by as much as 6 billion metric tons (over total working life) for vehicles within model years 2012 through 2025.

That’s roughly equivalent to the carbon emissions that 150 “typical” coal-fired power plants in the US emit during a year.

bmw-i3-dark-grey-kyle-field-hresNow that the proposed decision has been published, a 30-day public comment period follows.

The director of the Clean Vehicles and Fuels Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Luke Tonachel, commented in an email sent to CleanTechnica: “These common-sense standards are doing exactly what they were designed to do. They’re protecting our health and climate from dangerous pollution, saving billions of gallons of fuel, and saving car owners an average of nearly $4,000 over the life of the vehicle. Automakers have the technology to meet the standards through 2025, according to a thorough review by EPA, the Department of Transportation and the California Air Resources Board. So there’s no evidence we should slow down. Loosening standards would only cost consumers more, increase our dependence on oil and put Americans at greater risk from a changing climate.”

That’s a sensible enough position to take, the CAFE standards have to date certainly worked as intended. There are potential political problems relating to them, though, so some uncertainty still remains about their future.


Consumers Union also had positive and extensive comments on the matter, emailed to CleanTechnica as well:

Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, a longtime supporter of increasing fuel economy for passenger vehicles, applauded today’s decision to help consumers keep money in their pockets and avoid unnecessary fuel expenses.

“The EPA’s proposal to maintain robust fuel economy standards is a big win for consumers,” said Shannon Baker–Branstetter, energy policy counsel for Consumers Union. “Strong fuel economy standards means consumers will have a greater choice of vehicles to meet their family’s needs, while saving money on fuel costs and protecting against future gas price shocks.”

A recent Consumers Union analysis found that consumers would benefit an average of $4,800 in net savings over the life of a vehicle that achieves the 2025 standards. The fuel savings are significant enough that, even with continuing low gas prices, the savings would outweigh technology costs in the first month and continue after that. If gas prices rise, the savings will be even greater – up to $8,200 per vehicle.

Americans value fuel economy in new car buying decisions, according to a June 2016 survey, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.  The findings show that strong majorities of Americans believe increasing fuel efficiency is important (84%) and that the government should continue to set standards for higher fuel economy in cars and trucks (70%) – a belief supported by majorities of both Republicans and Democrats.

EPA’s new announcement is based on extensive technical analysis that found the standards, first proposed in 2012, to be achievable and affordable. A multi-agency technical report released in July found that automakers are developing and deploying new and improved technologies at an impressive rate; these technologies are helping automakers beat existing fuel economy standards, all the while achieving record sales and high profits; and deployment of these technologies means automakers are on the path to achieve the 2025 standards at a lower cost than initially estimated.  And according to EPA’s latest trends report, larger vehicles are improving at the fastest rate.

“Automakers are already outpacing the current fuel efficiency standards, and when finalized, EPA’s decision will provide automakers the certainty they need to continue building the efficient fleet that consumers want and expect,” said Baker-Branstetter.

Sierra Club Associate Director for Federal Advocacy Andrew Linhardt’s comments on the matter also seem worth highlighting:

“To keep our air clean and our climate safe, we need to put fuel efficiency standards in the fast lane. With transportation now leading as the largest source of carbon emissions in the US, cleaner cars are more important than ever before. The EPA’s proposed decision is the first stop on the roadmap to clean transportation. The Environmental Protection Agency’s draft technical review of the current fuel economy standards shows that these goals are reachable and working — due to technological innovation, our cars are cleaner and more efficient than ever before. We look forward to strengthening these standards further in the future and cleaning up our dirty transportation sector.”

We’ll keep you posted as the EPA regulations develop further.

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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