Obama: Auto Emissions Must Get Down To 42 MPG By 2016

Surrounded by auto workers and executives, President Barack Obama announced a new national emissions standard today, ending several weeks of speculation. The new standard is right in line with California's, the nation's most strict emissions standard.

The New York Times is reporting that the new fuel economy standard will be 42 MPG. What this means is that all new cars sold by the year 2016 must be able to travel 42 miles for each gallon of fuel. This will represent a 30 percent increase over current fuel efficiency levels.

The new national standard will also include the first-ever limits imposed on greenhouse gases emitted from vehicles.

Praise from environmental advocates

The announcement has been applauded by many environmental advocates, many of whom were, until recently, disappointed with the relatively lax fuel economy standard for 2011 that was set by the Obama Administration. The announcement is, perhaps, long overdue.

The domestic automakers seem to be onboard with the announcement, as well. "For seven long years, there has been a debate over whether states or the federal government should regulate autos," said Dave McCurdy, the president of the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers. "President Obama's announcement ends that old debate by starting a federal rulemaking to set a national program."

Early indications are that automakers are on pace to meet the requirements of the new emissions standard, but that they will have to continue to drastically change the type of vehicles they produce (the recent downturn in the economy had already forced automakers to focus on producing smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles).

Obama's record on emissions

Auto emissions has been a topic of interest for Obama for several years. In 2006, his second year as a United States senator, he co-sponsored a bill to raise fuel economy standards and another that focused on the use of alternative fuel sources.

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