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President Obama Announces New, Stricter Auto Emission Standards

On Tuesday, President Obama announced new auto emission standards to take effect by 2016. These standards would create uniform national regulations to replace standards which currently vary state-by-state. Specifically, auto makers will be required to increase fuel efficiency to 35.5 miles per gallon and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1/3. The plan still has to pass through standard procedures at the EPA and the Transportation Department before being finalized.

In stark contrast to efforts to enact similar rules just two years ago, the President announced the plan alongside 10 auto company CEOs and was backed by bipartisan congressional support. It is unclear whether auto companies chose to support the plan due to higher consumer demand for environmentally friendly vehicles, a true concern for the environment, or simply because of the financial strings which now tie them to the US government. Either way, the new rules mark a shift in the future of the auto industry and environmental policy as a whole.

Opponents propose that the new regulations will increase the cost of new cars to consumers by at least $1,300 per car and put an increase in the amount of stress auto makers are already facing. Supporters rebut that over the lifespan of the car the increase cost will be saved multiple times over on the cost of gasoline. Furthermore, while the increase in cost may seem like a burden now to both consumers and the auto industry, the long term benefits for both our environment and the economy far out weigh the short term risks. These new regulations are one step in a larger, more integrated US energy and environmental policy.