Acupuncture Continuing Education

Obama Has EPA & DOT Order New Car Economy

Under direction of the Obama administration, the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) and the DOT (Department of Transportation) have set new federal emission standards for passenger cars and light trucks. National greenhouse gas emissions have been established and tighter fuel economy requirements will affect 2012 through 2016 model-year vehicles. The EPA estimates that the improved mileage could save consumers up to $3,000 over the life of a vehicle. In balance, the Obama administration has released these new ecologically oriented standards on the heels of announcing the opening up of massive amounts of US terrain to offshore oil and gas exploration.

The Transportation Secretary states that Americans will “save money at the pump while putting less pollution in the air” because of the new regulations. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson noted that this move combines economic opportunities with “environmental priorities.” In a new effort of collaboration and simplification, cars and light trucks will meet only one federal standard instead of having to meet three separate standards set by the State, DOT, and EPA.

By 2016, a manufacturer’s fleet must average 34.1 mpg. This is achieved by requiring a 5% per year increase in fuel efficiency leading up to the 2016 standard. For cars and light trucks produced from 2012 to 2016 this is a reduction of 960 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the lifetime of the vehicles. The EPA notes this is the equivalent of taking 50 million cars and light trucks off the road in 2030. This also saves 1.8 billion barrels of oil. The Obama administration worked towards these cleaner air standards and increased fuel efficiency standards in a joint effort with automakers, the United Auto Workers, States, and many involved in the environmental community.

These standards make substantial gains in air quality and may help prevent toxic brown clouds from appearing over cities while reducing dependency on oil. This may help to reduce respiratory illnesses in populations due to air pollution.  While these new emission standards are cleaner than they have ever been, they pale in comparison to zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) which are already on American roads. ZEVs are vehicles that emit no tailpipe pollutants. This includes electric vehicles and vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles emit only water. It is safe to drink the water from the tailpipe! Rather than convert the entire fleet to zero emissions, the Obama administration has taken a moderate approach by requiring a slow shift to higher efficiency vehicles.