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Feds Tell California To Put On The Brakes Regarding Fuel Economy Standards

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On: Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 3:48PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Feds Tell California To Put On The Brakes Regarding Fuel Economy Standards

Californians love to say, “So goes California, so goes the rest of the country.” This means that if something happens on the west coast then pretty soon everyone will be following suit. In reality, that attitude doesn’t actually travel well beyond the west coast! Such is the case with California’s race to lower fuel economy standards.

As the government has rushed to tell automakers how to improve fuel economy in new vehicles, automakers registered “displeasure.” Okay, they pitched a fit at the Obama administration for moving too fast. Something had to be done, said the automakers. California, being in a mellow mood, agreed.

Here’s what occured: The EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation invited California over for a chat. After exchanging pleasantries, they got down to business. The result was that all sides now will release their new sets of standards on September 1st and a bold new agreement has been established. We’ll all sleep easy tonight!

Had it not been for this agreement, California would have stepped up to the microphones and made their own tailpipe emissions standards for cars announcement as early as March. Meanwhile, back in Washington, the government wasn't going to be ready for the exact same announcement until September. Everyone just had to get on the same page. This new joint announcement provoked a round of “huzzahs” from the automakers and a major environmental group.

“Only the federal government can balance nationwide the need to reduce oil consumption and emissions with the preservation of a vital manufacturing sector,” said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents the Detroit Big Three automakers along with Toyota and 7 other automotive companies.

From the opposite end of the spectrum, Roland Hwang, transportation program director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the agreement “is important recognition that California is a full partner in developing the next generation of national car standards.”

The first round in the fuel efficiency war was fired by the Obama administration when the government issued a preliminary proposal that would require automakers to increase fuel efficiency up to a whooping 62 mpg by 2025. Guess who didn’t like that announcement? The automakers. Guess who loved it? The consumer activists and environmental groups. Apparently, when it comes to fuel efficiency, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but either way, the final proposal will need to be signed, sealed and delivered by 2012.


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