The Opening Round of Fuel Efficiency Debates


On Friday, I raised the question of whether the Obama administration would raise fuel economy standards significantly this year as a real response to rising fuel costs. Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the administration plans to at least come pretty close to the 60-miles-per-gallon target enviros set, raising the average for passenger cars and other light vehicles to 56.2 MPG by 2025:

The White House’s ambitious opening bid, which it revealed in conversations with domestic auto companies and lawmakers last week, has already sparked resistance. U.S. automakers have offered to raise fuel efficiency over the next eight years to between 42.6 and 46.7 mpg, according to sources who had been briefed on the negotiations.

Of course, as the article and the comment from the White House makes clear, 56.2 MPG appears to be the administration’s opening bid. That means it is likely to be subject to some negotiations between now and September when the proposed rules are expected to be announced. Automakers are starting down at the low end of 42.6 miles per gallon and, as they have in the past, will likely do their damnedest to pull the figure that direction.

WE DON'T KNOW

What's going to happen next as the headlines grow crazier and more disconcerting by the day. But we do know the job of an independent, unrelenting press is more important than ever—and the ongoing commitment of MoJo readers to fight for a democracy where facts matter and all can participate is absolutely vital.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.