Obama Wants Public Help With Fuel Efficiency

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is asking consumers to
put their money - up to $1,300 per new vehicle by 2016 - behind his
plan for higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and
tougher rules on their greenhouse gas emissions.

In return, Obama said Tuesday in unveiling the plan, drivers
would make up the higher cost of more fuel-efficient, cleaner
vehicles by buying less gas at the pump. It would take just three
years to pay off the investment and would, over the life of a
vehicle, save about $2,800 through better gas mileage, the
president said.

While requiring that vehicle carbon dioxide emissions be reduced
by about one-third by the target date, the plan also calls for the
auto industry to build vehicles that average 35.5 miles per gallon.
Government regulations have never before linked emission and fuel
standards.

"The fact is, everyone wins," Obama said during a Rose Garden
ceremony attended by representatives of the auto industry and
environmental groups as well as state and federal lawmakers.

"Consumers pay less for fuel, which means less money going
overseas and more money to save or spend here at home. The economy as a whole runs more efficiently by using less oil and producing less pollution," he said. "And companies like those here today
have new incentives to create the technologies and the jobs that
will provide smarter ways to power our vehicles."

Obama said the proposal would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil
over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years, akin
to removing 177 million cars from the roads over the next 6 1/2
years.

In that period, he said, the savings in oil burned to fuel
American cars, trucks and buses would amount to last year's
combined U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya and
Nigeria.

The plan, to be proposed in the Federal Register of pending
rules and regulations, must clear procedural hurdles at the
Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department.

Under the changes, the overall fleet average would have to be
35.5 mpg by 2016, with passenger cars reaching 39 mpg and light
trucks hitting 30 mpg under a system that develops standards for
each vehicle class size. Manufacturers would also be required to
hit individual mileage targets.

Consumers were already going to pay an extra $700 for mileage
standards that had been approved previously, according to
administration officials. The Obama plan adds another $600 to the
price of a vehicle, bringing the total cost to $1,300 by 2016.

The plan would effectively end a feud between automakers and
statehouses over emission standards. Fourteen states and the
District of Columbia had urged the federal government to allow them
to enact more stringent standards than the federal government's
requirements.

Obama's plan gives states the higher standard for emissions they
requested but also sets a single national standard, sought by
automakers, and more time for automakers to make the changes.

The president claimed historic progress in his bid for a
"clean-energy economy" and hailed the deal accepted by diverse
interest groups as a "harbinger of a change in the way business is
done in Washington."

The ceremony brought together longtime adversaries. California
state Sen. Fran Pavley, who wrote the 2002 law that required auto
companies to reduce tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases, sat
next to Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., a longtime champion of the auto
industry.

Nearby, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who has defended
General Motors and Chrysler as they struggle with government aid,
sat next to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was once
depicted in a Detroit billboard that read, "Arnold to Michigan:
Drop Dead!"

Auto executives joined the event and later said they were
pleased with the first steps.

"Clearly over time, the president is going to continue to work
toward an integrated energy policy in the United States, the
consumer is going to be involved and we're all going to move
forward, I believe, on this journey to energy independence, energy
security and long-term stability," Ford CEO Alan Mulally told
reporters at the White House.


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