New Fuel Economy Rule Based on Flawed Bush-Era Methodology, But Limitied to One Year

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Aaron Huertas, 202-331-5458

New Fuel Economy Rule Based on Flawed Bush-Era Methodology, But Limitied to One Year

Better Analysis Will Produce Stronger Requirements Down the Road, Science Group Says

WASHINGTON - The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) today released its final fuel economy requirements for automakers for model year 2011 cars and trucks. The agency set the average at 27.3 miles per gallon (mpg), a slight jump from the estimated average of 26 mpg for 2008 model year vehicles. It also removed draft language the Bush administration inserted into the rule that attempted to block California and other states from implementing their own clean car standards. The agency will release final rules for model years 2012 to 2016 sometime early next year.

Below is a statement by Eli Hopson, Washington representative for the Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles Program:

"The fuel economy average should have been higher, but the Obama administration had its hands tied. The 2011 rule is based on fundamentally flawed methodology and data held over from the Bush administration, so it's no surprise that it isn't that much of a boost. NHTSA had to meet a tight deadline and was stuck using methodology and data that overestimate the cost and underestimate the benefits of higher fuel economy for consumers, the environment and national security. The Obama administration did damage control on the flawed approach by limiting its reach to just one model year.

"We need to see a significant boost in fuel economy requirements when the Obama administration addresses subsequent model years. President Obama and his administration understand the importance of cutting oil consumption, reducing global warming pollution, strengthening the auto industry, and saving consumers money. They need to ensure that NHTSA is open about how it calculates fuel economy levels. The agency should rely on independent analysis instead of trusting the auto industry's inflated technology cost estimates. Additionally, the agency should work with the Environmental Protection Agency, which is doing a real-world analysis to determine how much fuel-efficient technology actually costs as well as the benefits of putting better technology in cars and trucks." 

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The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.

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