When adding up the accomplishments of the Obama administration, the increase in auto fuel efficiency standards, also known by the acronym CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) is high on the list. My continual frustration with Obama administration is its failure to communicate its policies and accomplishments clearly and often to voters. The failure at communicating the benefits of the Affordable Care Act is a great example, taking credit for the increase in CAFE standards, and explaining how this helps consumers is another.
On May 21, 2010, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum requesting that NHTSA and EPA develop a coordinated National Program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions of passenger cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2017-2025. On August 28, the Obama administration announced that it had finalized a new, historic 54.5 mpg fuel efficiency standard. Talking Points Memo reports that this new standard builds on the first phase of the National Program for these vehicles for model years 2012-2016, which boosted the 2016 fuel efficiency standard to 34.1 miles-per-gallon. The new standard will fully take effect by 2025.
By setting these new, even more ambitious standards, the Obama administration is taking positive, meaningful action to address global climate change, and reduce oil consumption and dependence on foreign oil. The new amount, 54.5 mpg, would more than double the current average fuel economy of 25.2 miles per gallon.
The EPA and the Department of Transportation estimate that, for cars released in the next 13 years, the new standards will result in “the most significant single reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. history.” Although average vehicle cost will increase by $1,800 by 2025, the government estimates consumers will save $8,000 per vehicle in fuel costs throughout the lifetimes of their increased-efficiency vehicles, which represents a substantial $1.7 trillion in savings.
Automakers are onboard
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents 12 major auto companies, including the “Big Three” — GM, Ford and Chrysler — has signed on to the challenge and are pleased with the Obama administration crafting a single national program eliminating conflicting requirements from several regulatory bodies.
The Romney campaign claims that CAFE standards have hurt the auto industry by denying consumers the choices they want. Yet, typical of Romney, the truth is the opposite. The new CAFE standards have prompted the industry to become more profitable because they are competitive with foreign auto makers. Automotive News reports that the new fuel efficiency vehicles are the key drivers in the 2012 increased sales.
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, perennially out of step with everyone, (both consumers and auto makers) has has threatened to eliminate CAFE standards if elected into office. The only winners Romney envisions are his donors, big oil companies and the Koch Brothers, who would prefer gas guzzlers stay on the road.
Madonna Gauding is a freelance writer, illustrator and book designer living in St. Louis. MO. She is the author of 10 books on a variety of "mind, body, spirit" topics.