Green groups, automakers praise new vehicle mileage rules

The rules have buy-in from the auto industry. They represent a deal struck last year between the industry, the White House, and states under which California and roughly a dozen other states planning to impose vehicle emissions standards agreed to defer to the federal rule.

That meant the auto industry avoided a patchwork of state rules, and in return accepted a faster ramp-up in mileage standards than called for under a 2007 law.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers – a trade group representing 11 automakers including Detroit’s big three – praised the rules.

“America needs a roadmap to reduced dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gases, and only the federal government can play this role,” said Alliance CEO Dave McCurdy. “Today, the federal government has laid out a course of action through 2016, and now we need to work on 2017 and beyond.”

According to EPA and DoT, the rules will add an average of $950 to the cost of a model year 2016 car, but consumers will see a net savings of $3,000 over the life of the vehicle thanks to the improved mileage.

Not everyone is thrilled with the rules, however. The first-time regulation of vehicle carbon dioxide sets the stage for planned EPA rules covering greenhouse gases from factories, power plants and other large stationary sources.

“The rule is not just about vehicle efficiency. It’s about EPA overreaching to create an opportunity for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from virtually every firm and business in America, no matter how unwieldy, intrusive and burdensome such regulation might be,” the American Petroleum Institute said in a statement Thursday.

EPA has vowed not to begin regulating stationary sources until next year, and plans to phase-in the requirements slowly. The Obama administration says it wants Congress to pass a new climate law, but that EPA will move ahead with rules under its current Clean Air Act powers if lawmakers do not act.