Obama to push costly new gas-mileage standard-WEB ONLY

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President Barack Obama wants drivers to go farther on a gallon of gasoline and
cause less damage to the environment – and be willing to pick up the tab.


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Obama today plans to announce the first-ever
national emissions limits for cars and trucks, as well as require a
35.5-miles-per-gallon standard. Consumers should expect to pay an extra $1,300
per vehicle by the time the plan is complete in 2016.

Carol Browner, the White House energy and climate director, publicly confirmed
the new initiative in appearances on morning network news shows today, calling
it a “truly historic” occasion and saying that such tougher
environmental standards have been “long overdue.”

The plan also would effectively end a feud between automakers and statehouses
over emission standards, with automakers getting the single national standard
they’ve been seeking and more time to make the changes.

Obama’s plan couples for the first time pollution reduction from vehicle
tailpipes with increased efficiency on the road. It would save 1.8 billion
barrels of oil through 2016 and would be the environmental equivalent to taking
177 million cars off the road, senior administration officials said last night.

New vehicles would be 30-percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by the end of
the program, according to officials familiar with the administration’s
discussions.

The plan still must clear regulatory hurdles at the Environmental Protection
Agency and the Transportation Department. Automakers appear to be in support.

Administration officials said consumers were going to pay an extra $700 for
mileage standards that had already been approved. The comprehensive Obama plan
would add another $600 to the price of a vehicle, a senior administration official
said.

The extra miles would come at roughly a 5-percent increase each year. By the
time the plan takes full effect, at the end of 2016, new vehicles would cost an
estimated extra $1,300.

That official said the cost would be recovered through savings at the pump for
consumers who choose a standard 60-month car loan and if gas prices follow
government projections.

“We worked very, very closely with all the car companies, with California, with the
environmental groups,” Browner said today.

“Historically, the program was a fleet average,” said Browner, who
headed the EPA during the Clinton
administration. “What we’re doing here is proposing standards for every
category of car.”

In a battle over emission standards, California,
13 other states and the District of
Columbia
have urged the federal government to let
them enact more stringent standards than the federal government’s requirements.
The states’ regulations would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new
cars and trucks by 2016 – the benchmark Obama planned to unveil for vehicles
built in model years 2012 and beyond.

The Obama plan gives the states essentially what they sought and more, although
the buildup is slower than the states sought. In exchange, though,
cash-strapped states such as California
would not have to develop their own standards and enforcement plan. Instead,
they can rely on federal tax dollars to monitor the environment.

The auto industry will be required to ramp up production of more fuel-efficient
vehicles on a much tighter timeline than originally envisioned. It will be
costly; the Transportation Department last year estimated that requiring the
industry to meet 31.6 mpg by 2015 would cost nearly $47 billion.

But industry officials – many of whom are running companies on emergency
taxpayer dollars – said Obama’s plan would help them because they would not
face multiple emissions requirements and would have more certainty as they
develop their vehicles for the next decade.

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