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For Immediate Release, March 27, 2009

Contact: Kassie Siegel, Center for Biological Diversity, (760) 366-2232 x 302 or (951) 961-7972 (cell)

Worse Than Bush: Obama's New Fuel Economy Standards
Lower Than Bush Proposal
National Gas-mileage Standards for Cars, Trucks, SUVs Woefully Inadequate

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today the administration of President Barack Obama issued corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for cars, trucks, and SUVs for model year 2011 that are significantly lower than the standards proposed by the Bush administration last year. The regulatory decision issued today requires that passenger cars achieve only 30.2 mpg and that SUVs and pick-up trucks achieve only 24.1 mpg in 2011. Both these numbers are lower than the Bush proposal of 31.2 mpg for passenger cars and 25 mpg for SUVs and light trucks, and would result in many millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions more than the Bush proposal.

“Obama promised change, but unfortunately this is change in the wrong direction,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s unfathomable that Obama would issue regulations worse than Bush, but that is exactly what he has done.”

The new standards come in response to a federal appeals court decision striking down the last standards to be finalized, by Bush in 2006, for failing to adequately consider the vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions, and also to legislation passed in December 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act, mandating fuel economy increases. In response, the Bush administration in May 2008 issued new proposed standards. While those standards were well below what are technically feasible and required by law, there were higher than the Obama standards issued today.

The transportation sector accounts for about a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and any rational plan to address the climate crisis will require dramatic fuel economy improvements.

The standards finalized by the Obama administration for passenger cars are a full 1 mpg lower than the Bush proposal, while the standards for the light truck category, which includes both SUVs and pick-up trucks, are 0.9 mpg lower than the Bush proposal and only .1 mpg higher than the 2006 standard which was overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as inadequate.

U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy for Model Year 2011

2006 Bush Final Rule

2008 Bush Proposed Rule

2009 Obama Final Rule

Passenger Cars

n/a

31.2

30.2

Light Trucks

24

25.0

24.1

Combined Fleet

n/a

27.8

27.3

The Bush administration postponed finalizing the standards as Congress and the administration developed options for a bailout of U.S. automakers. President Obama issued a memorandum in January, directing the Department of Transportation to revise the rule to incorporate relevant technological and scientific considerations. Today’s regulations affect only model year 2011; later model years will be the subject of a future rulemaking.

Documents:

Obama’s 2009 Final Fuel Economy Standards for Model Year 2011

Bush’s 2008 Proposed Fuel Economy Standards for Model Year 2011

Bush’s 2006 Final Fuel Economy Standards for Model Year 2011

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, overturning the 2006 Bush standards.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with more than 200,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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