Q&A on new auto emissions standards

Q. What will the rules do, exactly?

A. They'll restrict the from cars and trucks -- essentially forcing them to get better . By 2016, vehicles sold in the United States will average 35.5 miles per gallon, up from 25 mpg today. The White House estimates the new regulations will save a total of nearly 2 billion barrels of oil from 2011 to 2016 and, in global warming terms, represent the equivalent of taking 177 million cars off the road.

Q. Do I have to trade in my Yukon for a Prius?

A. No. The new regulations would apply only to new cars. You don't have to scrap your gas guzzler, and you won't need to retrofit it.

Q. Will this change my car-buying choices?

A. Yes. For one thing, the Obama administration projects you'll pay an extra $600 per vehicle, on average, in 2016 because of the new rules. It's also likely that U.S. dealerships will stock more light vehicles with less trunk space, and very possibly more advanced-fuel vehicles such as plug-in hybrids.

Q. The federal government right now has such a heavy hand in running two big U.S. automakers due to their need for federal aid. Is that why the auto companies agreed to this?

A. It's one of several factors that appear to be at play, including California's push to set tough vehicle emissions standards and the Environmental Protection Agency's decision, spurred by a Supreme Court ruling, to propose regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act -- all of which have pressed automakers to compromise on a national fuel standard.

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(c) 2009, Tribune Co.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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May 20, 2009

As discussed in my new book Green Hell, the only way for carmakers to meet these standard is to make smaller, lighter and deadlier cars.

The National Academy of Sciences has linked mileage standards with about 2,000 deaths per year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every 100-pound reduction in the weight of small cars increases annual traffic fatalities by as much as 715.


The Natural Resources Defense Council said that the 35 MPG standard would save about one million gallons of gas per day. So how does that savings balance against the 2,000 fatalities per year that the National Academy of Sciences says are caused by those same lighter cars?

For the sake of being utilitarian, let%u2019s generously assume that the mileage standards reduced the price of gasoline by $1. That would translate to daily savings of $1 million. Is that savings worth killing more than five people per day, plus other non-fatal injuries and property damage?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -%u2013 for the purposes of risk assessment -%u2013 values a single human life at $6.9 million dollars. So under the new mileage standards, it would cost about $35 million per day in human lives (not including non-fatal injuries) to save $1 million in gas.


From the Green Hell Blog,
http://greenhellb...ess.com/


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