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May 19, 2009

President Obama Announces Two Great Vehicle Decisions

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This is a guest post from Ann Mesnikoff, director of the Sierra Club's Green Transportation Campaign.

The White House Rose Garden is the perfect place to be on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, especially when the President is announced a fabulous deal on achieving higher fuel economy standards and a national greenhouse gas standards for new cars and trucks. I was there today for this announcement and it was truly historic.

Sierra Club can be very proud of decades of work to raise fuel economy standards in Congress and our hard work to support California's Pavley greenhouse gas tailpipe standards, which 14 other states have adopted – it all came together today. 

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What's the deal?  In 2016, we will have a 35.5 mpg fleet-wide average for new cars and light trucks.  This standard will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and keep 900 million metric tons of greenhouse gases out of the air during the lives of those vehicles.

According to the White House, this "is equivalent to taking 177 million cars off the road, or shutting down 194 coal plants." 

And there is more good news - we expect that California will get its waiver and put its clean car standards to work for 2010-2011.

We can celebrate the announcement today, but we still have work to do.  Today's announcement will result in EPA and DOT proposing new standards in August – we will pay close attention to the details and ensure the final rule is strong.  And this summer California will begin its process for setting standards for 2017 and beyond.  

The foundation is now set for steady and strong increases in national fuel economy standards and reductions in global warming pollution.  Great things can happen.

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First two photos by Ann Mesnikoff, third photo by Dave Hamilton.


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