Given the never-ending debt talks, it went nearly unnoticed that the Obama administration announced a fairly significant new deal on fuel economy standards for automobiles on Friday. By 2025, the makers of cars and light trucks will be required to have a fleet-wide average of 54.5 miles per gallon of gasoline. That averages to a 5 percent gain in efficiency for each model year, starting in 2016.
The new standard represents a deal forged between the Obama administration, car makers, and the state of California, which has traditionally set higher standards for cars than the federal requirement. The EPA estimated on Friday that this would save US drivers $1.7 trillion by 2025, or an average of $8,000 per for each new vehicle. It would also save 2.2 million barrels of oil per day by 2025, the administration said.
Enviros had been pushing for a 60 mile-per-gallon standard, but seemed to be pleased with the announcement on Friday. The Center for Progressive Reform, however, criticized the administration for working out the deal with automakers behind closed doors, rather than through the traditional regulatory process of determining the "maximum feasible" level that automakers should be able to attain.
In related news, Green Tech Media took a look at ten technologies that will help meet that standard.
Here's other news worth noting this week:
The US Coast Guard captain currently in charge of the response to last year's BP oil spill criticized Alabama officials for their handling of the clean up, reports the Press-Register.
An Associated Press investigation found that "about 1 of every 5 employees" working for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Enforcement and Regulation in the Gulf had to recuse themselves from some of their duties because of conflict of interest. The new ethics policy was adopted last year in the wake of the Gulf spill.
Scientists say that climate change is forcing toxic chemicals trapped in the earth back into the atmosphere, Solve Climate reports.
Rolling Stone has a great piece on the plastic bag wars, highlighting how Big Bag is hell-bent on keeping us hooked.
And last but not least, Bill Nye—you know, the Science Guy—attempts to explain science to a Fox News anchor: