President Obama made history today by raising fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. That’s roughly twice the mileage our cars get today.
By calling on America to produce better-performing cars, Obama is ushering in a new era of innovation and growth. He is also delivering sweeping benefits for the American people. These new standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the gas pump, cut our oil imports by one-third, and cut carbon pollution from new cars in half.
It’s the kind of significant move that underscores why it matters who the next president will be. It took presidential leadership to broker an agreement for strong standards that automakers, labor unions, and environmental leaders could all support. But where is Mitt Romney on this issue?
As with so many energy and environment issues, he has switched his position to cozy up to the far right. Governor Romney opposes the standards, despite having backed fuel-economy increases in the past. His current position puts him at odds with the vast majority of drivers, auto workers, and even the auto industry.
Consumers welcome the standards because they want cars to go farther on a tank of gas, and they want to keep more money in their pockets. A survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 80 percent of car owners want to raise fuel efficiency standards to 55 miles per gallon by 2025, and more than 90 percent would like carmakers to offer more models of efficient cars and trucks.
Car companies also support the higher standards. Consumer demand for fuel-efficient cars is helping power Detroit’s economic recovery, but standards provide something buying trends cannot: long-term clarity. With the standards in place, automakers can make investments that will pay off in the market. There are now 57 fuel-efficient models available in showrooms today, up from 27 models in 2009. I already see the greater variety when I have to rent a car; instead of one or two efficient models, there are now many choices for saving money on gas.
Building all these new and retooled cars puts people to work. A new study from the BlueGreen Alliance and American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimates 570,000 jobs will be created across the United States by 2030 as automobile efficiency ramps up.
Romney disregards the many benefits of raising fuel economy. His position is far more extreme than President George W. Bush’s. In order to protect national security, Bush set a goal of reducing U.S. gasoline use by 20 percent, and in 2007, he signed a law raising fuel-efficiency standards for the first time in more than three decades.
President Obama has taken bold action on car standards because he knows American engineers have the ingenuity to build even better cars and provide even greater savings for drivers. In 2009, he issued his Administration’s first car standards, raising average fuel economy to 35 mpg standard in 2016. Already we are seeing the results in the showroom: there are now 60 fuel-efficient models available at car dealers today—up from 28 models in 2009.
The new 54.5 mpg standards will spark even more progress. It’s mind boggling that Romney would oppose something that brings more savings at the pump, more technological breakthroughs in Detroit, and more job growth around the country. Yet he has gone so far as saying that he would consider revoking the standards if he wins the White House. Any claim that he would do this in the name of the free market is undermined by his desire to extend billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the oil and gas industry.
This is a clear illustration of why elections matter. We have a choice in November between someone who is promoting innovation to save us money and create jobs and someone who is sending us back to gas guzzlers and dirty air. The choice is clear.