Obama ridicules Romney for calling new fuel efficiency standards 'extreme'

President Obama said Wednesday that his Republican opponent Mitt Romney would rather travel by steam engine than in cars that would get much higher gas mileage under a rule enacted by his administration this week. 

Romney has called the president's proposal for an emission standard that would require cars to get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 "extreme."

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But in a campaign speech in Charlottesville, Va., a day after Republicans formally nominated Romney to be the GOP nominee this fall, Obama said it was the former Massachusetts governor's position on the auto emission standards that were out of step.

"My opponent called my position on fuel efficiency standards extreme," Obama quipped. "Maybe the steam engine is more his speed."

A spokeswoman for Romney's campaign said on Tuesday that the Obama administration's proposed emission requires were "extreme standards … which will limit the choices available to American families.

"The president tells voters that his regulations will save them thousands of dollars at the pump, but always forgets to mention that the savings will be wiped out by having to pay thousands of dollars more upfront for unproven technology that they may not even want,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

Under the requirements, which were finalized by the departments of transportation and environmental protection on Tuesday, automakers would have to produces cars that achieve higher miles-per-gallon beginning in 2017.

The Obama administration has said the rules will provide an average fuel cost savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 over the lifetime of a vehicle.

The announcement has been cheered by environmentalists, and it is supported by the U.S. auto industry, which argues that having a national standard is better than having differing state rules. But the trade association for auto dealerships has said the new emission rules will make it harder for customers to buy news cars.

"America’s new car dealers support continuous fuel economy increases [but] NADA remains concerned that model year 2017-2025 mandates, coupled with previous Obama administration fuel economy regulations, will hike the average price of a new vehicle by nearly $3,000 when fully implemented," the National Automobile Dealers Association said Tuesday in statement.