EPA: Automakers on track to cut emissions

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The Environmental Protection Agency is reporting that U.S. automakers are "off to a good start" in meeting the Obama administration's greenhouse gas standards for cars and light trucks.

The EPA report, released Friday, found that nearly every manufacturer was in compliance during the 2012 model year, the first in the 14-year program.

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On average in 2012, automakers' greenhouse gas performance was roughly 10 grams per mile below what federal standards require, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe said on a call with reporters Friday.

"That means that automakers sold vehicles that were even cleaner than standards required," Perciasepe said. The report is the first official look into how auto companies are doing.

To meet the standards, manufacturers reduced tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions, and cut greenhouse gases through improvements in air conditioning systems, among other measures.

Toyota, Honda, Ford, General Motors and other smaller automakers produce fleets of cars and light trucks that were in line with the EPA standards in 2012, the report states, using the credits afforded by the agency for certain reduction measures.

Jaguar Land Rover was the only automaker to fall short of enough EPA-issued greenhouse gas credits, which measure the manufacturers tailpipe emissions, to cover its obligations through the 2012 model year.

"The key point that we've seen in the first year is that [automakers] are overcomplying, and we are getting more greenhouse gas reductions than we anticipated," said Perciasepe.

Since the start of the program, the EPA is seeing an "uptake" in new technology used by automakers in the marketplace.

The report also found that fuel economy in vehicles improved in 2012 by 1.2 miles per gallon, compared to 2011 levels. That's the second biggest improvement in the last 30 years.

Vehicle tailpipes emissions from burning gasoline are one of the highest sources of greenhouse gas emissions next to electric power plants. In 2011, vehicle tailpipe emissions produced 1.9 billion tons of greenhouse gases.

The administration's standards are expected to cut 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases over the lifetime of vehicles sold from model years 2012-2025.