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Environmentalists lobby Obama administration to adopt 60 mpg fuel standard


Thursday's Automotive X Prize winners showed it was possible for cars to achieve 100-plus miles per gallon. Now a coalition of 19 environmental groups has launched a campaign urging the Obama administration to adopt a 60 mpg fuel standard that would apply to cars and light trucks by 2025.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and other groups aim to influence the Notice of Intent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation will issue later this month, proposing fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for light-duty vehicles for the 2017 model year and beyond. 

"Our analysis shows that technologies can achieve the 60 mpg level with a mix of 55% hybrid vehicles, 10% plug-in electric hybrids, 5% pure electric plug-ins and improvements to conventional gasoline vehicle engines," said Roland Hwang, transportation program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It's all known technology. We're talking about accelerating the introduction of these types of technologies and pushing the automakers to start innovating."

The 60 mpg standard by 2025 presumes a 6% annual improvement in fuel economy over the 2016 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard of 34.1 mpg established in April, Hwang said.

"We were very surprised when environmental groups called for 60 mpg because just last year we worked with the Obama administration and the State of California and environmental groups to agree on a new national standard that would reach over 35 mpg by 2016, and before we've even achieved those new heights, in fact, before the program has even taken effect, there are already calls for almost double the mileage," said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group that represents General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and 10 additional auto manufacturers.

Bergquist said it's a challenge to predict what will happen by 2025.

"One of the factors that should be assessed is affordability of technology because if consumers don't buy that technology, we're not going to achieve those results. We also don't know the future state of the electric infrastructure or consumers' ability to find clean diesel. It's hard to say what technology will be on the road," Bergquist said, adding that technology breakthroughs will be needed to achieve fuel economy gains exceeding the 2016 standard.

According to a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, the joint notice of intent to be issued later this month by the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will describe the key elements of the post-2016 fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards, as well as a schedule for setting those standards that would provide sufficient lead time to vehicle manufacturers.

-- Susan Carpenter 

Photo: The aerodynamic, four-wheeled Very Light Car No. 98 by Edison2 demonstrated the equivalent of 102.5 miles per gallon on the test track. Credit: Edison2

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Why are the liberals so concerned about saving the planet, and cutting pollution, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil?

Don't you know its the American way to drive hummers, waste gas, and give billions of dollars to terrorist petrol producers?

The x prize was really for battery cars with a limited range.
Sep 1 I drove from Canada to Mexico averaging 119.1mpg and using only 12.4 gallons of fuel in a car that is 25years old and driving at 55-60mph.

see it at

We Right Wingers want real innovation like new generation Nuclear power plants that the Left don't allow and force everyone to use 1800 technology like coal mining and keep us all on gasoline. Remember MTBE additive forced on all of us by the Eco-nuts which raised the price of gas and POLLUTED the ground water? I suppose you thought that was great innovation! I'm not against green technology as long as it actually helps and truly brings down prices. The Left wants us all out of our cars and that's their true agenda.

While we are at it, why don't we appease the leftist environmentalists by creating a car run on fairy dust?

Why do right wingers hate innovation? Do you want us all stuck in horse-driven buggies and living in caves because cars and houses "cost more?"

Why do you hate businesses that want to earn a profit, like automotive companies that make the car of the future instead of the car of the 70s?

Why do you want us all to choke on your smog and pay the ever-increasing cost of totally wasted gasoline when we have a chance to spend less on gas and breathe cleaner air?

Do you not believe in supply and demand? Because if all our cars got 60 MPG, demand for gas would drop, and so would prices, plus we would be using less, which means more money in the consumer's pocket. But you hate lower prices and greater abundance?

We want to fuel our cars from our rooftops instead of from Saudi Oil - why do you hate patriots who desire energy independence and don't want to fund terrorism? Why are you fighting for Big Oil's monopolies and supporting oppressive Middle Eastern and Communist regimes? Do you think they are also fighting for you (hahaha!)? We love America, and if you don't, you can get out.

News flash - the planet is not a piggy bank of resources for you and Big Corporations to plunder and poison. It and all the plants and animals living on it deserve respect, which means sustainable consumption, not mercenary dead-end extraction processes.

We want cleaner, cheaper, more sustainable purchasing options and we resent you trying to stop the marketplace from responding. You and your Big Corporate puppeteers use lobbyists, well so do we.

Go 60 MPG! Go clean diesel! Go electric cars fueled by ROOFTOP, not desert, solar! Ignore the monopolists, terrorists and flat-earthers!

'Our analysis shows that technologies can achieve the 60 mpg level with a mix of 55% hybrid vehicles, 10% plug-in electric hybrids, 5% pure electric plug-ins and improvements to conventional gasoline vehicle engines,' said Roland Hwang, transportation program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council." Hey Roland, are you including the amount of fuel required to generate the electricity? Also, It doesn't matter how many MPG you get, you don't get it sitting on the 405 or the 101. The problem is too much traffic because the politicians allow so much density. This goes for water too. In MA they tie insurance to registration BUT unlike in CA where you get 1 month insurance to register your car, then cancel it, if you cancel in MA, they revoke your registration. So. 25% of the people have no insurance. Pull them all from the road and watch the CO2's drop.

let me know then the Greens give up cars and electricity to save the planet. Then the rest of us will only need 30 MPG. If they're that concerned they can act NOW.

When environmental groups call for changes that are unrealistic, they diminish not only their appeal, but also their credibility. I agree with Gloria Bergquist: The average American would not be willing to buy a vehicle that was able to get 60 mpg with current technology. It may be possible to produce such a car, but the majority of Americans wouldn't buy it, so why propose it? Are environmentalists going to rely on Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama to shove it down our throats like they did Obamacare? That's an interesting approach to politics and public governance: If the electorate can't be convinced - just force them!

The Chevy Volt is the most interesting of the current "new ideas", and it is going to have a list price of $41,000. That may be nothing to an L.A. millionaire, but for the average working stiff with a deflated mortgage and three children to put through college down the road, it's a lot of money. And what will you get for it? A smallish-sized car you cannot get a wife, three kids, a family pet and a picnic basket into without a shoe horn.

There needs to be a whole lot of good, old-fashioned realism introduced into this discussion. Environmentalists are not only battling current technology, they're going toe to toe with Economics. In a crazy, screwed-up way, they're actually fighting Mother Nature in an attempt to "help her". And you know what they say about fooling Mother Nature....

Global warming has become a goldmine of scary propaganda to boost eco-group fundraising. Al Gore has become the world’s first “carbon billionaire.” Global government regulators have spent (or proposed to spend) hundreds of billions of dollars to control climate based primarily upon the United Nations IPCC reports.

What is clear from "climategate" is that partisan ideologies and cultish environmentalism have replaced prudent science and rational environmental policy decisions. Militant environmentalism and green-obsessed bureaucrats have become an “axis of antagonism” that we can no longer afford.

krish is correct, more than MPG needs to be addressed, the number of miles driven is just as important. Between 1980 and 2009 the number of miles driven per year per licensed driver in the US increased from about 10,000 to just under 15,000.

The American Petroleum Institute has published marketing studies looking at the motor fuel consumption of americans over the past 40 years. Through gas crisis, gas glut and economic gyrations, with changing vehicle mix and mandated fuel economy standards the amount spent each year is a remarkable constant percentage of income.

You will not reduce the consumption of motor fuel unless you increase the cost relative to people's incomes. They will adjust by changing driving habits, and through vehicle choice so that after a surprisingly short time the amount spent on fuel will be the same as before the price increase.

The oil companies will viciously fight any plan that would increase the cost of motor fuel since it will reduce their income.

Mercedes first showed the GLK as a diesel, then a diesel-hybrid at the Geneva car show in 2008 (220hp and 350 ft-lb torque). It won green car of the show, delivering over 60 mpg. Then they introduce the GLK with a 6-cylinder that gets under 20 mpg.

" 'Our analysis shows that technologies can achieve the 60 mpg level with a mix of 55% hybrid vehicles, 10% plug-in electric hybrids, 5% pure electric plug-ins and improvements to conventional gasoline vehicle engines,' said Roland Hwang, transportation program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council."

Hey Ronald- your analysis may be feasible in the cities of San Diego and Los Angeles, but when winter comes to the Great Plains, Mid-West, North East and Mid-Atlantic States, batteries FAIL, due to cold weather conditions.

I haven't seen too many, if any "hybrid cars" have the functionality of their petroleum counterparts, AT THE SAME PRICE RANGE, such as heated seats, four-wheel drive and other necessities, during the cold and snowy winter months. Some people enjoy nature and need to pull a boat or camping equipment, which requires POWER.

Also the so-called analysis did not omitted for Hydrogen Fuel or Fuel Cell cars, which emit water vapor and only cost about ten cents a gallon to fill-up and doesn't require a re-work of the electric grid, to support plug-ins.

Forget electric and look at hydrogen, as the replacement fuel.

There used to be Geo Metro that got 58 mpg hiway in 1989.

Just give me a plug in hybrid from the dealer, please. Since most of my driving is less than ten miles I'll never have to buy gas.

I think this mpg fight is totally misplaced.

Don't get me wrong. MPG is important.. up to a point. 30 mpg is good, and 40 mpg is better. Is 50 mpg better? yes. and so on. But after a point the car becomes a motorcycle and we are not really talking about the same thing.

What is more important is how many miles a person drives.

Just like spending, this needs to be classified into discretionary and essential mileage. The definition of essential of course depends on the person defining it. If someone chooses to live 50 miles from their work, is their commute classified as essential or discretionary?

The policy makers should come up with ways to reduce the amount of miles driven. This can take make forms.
a) educating the public
b) town planning to reduce commute distances.
c) making mass transit cool and usable.
d) discouraging discretionary driving by tax policies
e) discouraging commute distances by appropriate incentives and disincentives to reflect the actual cost
f) registration fees based on miles driven

I think for most people about 30-40% mileage can be reduced with some planning. and accommodation.

Most people would pick up strangers to avoid a bridge toll or get into a commuter lane, but will choose to drive separate cars from place X to place Y.

B20 BioDiesel + plug-in electric hybrid + well reasoned "FeeBates" to encourage a shift to the new diesel/hybrids + nuclear power = better than 80 mpg cars and a power grid that can support the new demand for electricity.

While at the same time creating jobs, cleaning the air, vastly reducing CO2 emissions, reducing potential of terrorism and enhancing national security. The coalition of environmental groups should be pushing all of the above.

Some people have nothing better to do than think about themselves.

It will cost more, waaaah
It's impossible, waaaah
I need to drive on the freeway, waaah
It's a combustion engine, not god, waaah
Nuclear power plant would lead to electric cars, huh??? What???

Right now this is the only place to live and it's not gonna last much longer at this rate. The rest of the world is starting to get a clue, except us. You think China polutes alot, not really, it's us.

At least think of your children if not for humanity.

If the fraudulent Sierra Club and the other so-called environmental groups would have allowed California to build Nuclear generated electricity for the past 20 years, we would all be driving electric cars on the cheap, and there wouldn't be a need to make an mpg law. We would have gotten away from being at the mercy of oil and coal companies from other states, and simultaneously the greenest state in the country.

Ya get only so much bang for the buck out of a gallon of gasoline and optimum combustion efficiency from the state of the art internal combustion engine, 60 MPG? I dunno? Me the wife and family luggage and the dog at freeway speed, and 60 mpg? Impact safe, AC, cruise control, electric windows and seats and a GPS?
Sounds like some one needs a reality check.

It better not sacrifice power. I'm tired of hippies. Do they realize the prius creates more pollution than than a hummer shipping the car parts the highly toxic battery etc but let's just look at the fuel economy and.think that's the big picture.

I get to keep mine until it dies though, right?

This is a doable initiative. My '03 Honda Insight, (3 cylinder engine) gets 60-70 mpg. Makes sense economically. Makes sense environmentally.

If CARB would get out of the way and allow innovation and support reasonable emmissions policy we could achieve 60 mpg tomorrow. You may remember under the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles back in the '90s the Big Three auto makers achieved between 72 and 80 mpg in full size four door sedans. These were diesel-electric series drive plug-in hybrids. We have had the technology for years but CARB has not allowed diesels so the basic design of these hyper efficient hybrids could not be use in California and, with California's market clout, that killed the concept nation-wide.

CARB should be encouraging hyper mileage B20 biodiesel-electric plug-in hybrids not preventing them from coming to market. And, the most important point here is not the impact on clean air - but rather the impact on freeing ourselves forever from mid-east oil. This level of energy security would be a game changer in terms of our nation's security. All in all such a move would create new jobs, give money to American farmers instead of middle east oil shieks and greatly enhance our national security, reduce terrorism and clean our air.

some people dont have anything better to do that to recommend dumb ideas. Anyone can suggest improvements but do they see how it will affect the people. now instead of an average car costing 20k its going to be 30k, who will be able to afford that. so only the rich will be able to afford this while the poor stick to their old clunkers. yay for the environment.!

As I recall, one of the so-called 100 mpg "cars" that won the x prize was in effect a motorcycle with training wheels and a full fairing. Not exactly a "car or light truck" according to my understanding of the terms. I can remember when the Chevy Metro was the gas milage champ in the USA and my friends who had them readily got 60 mgp on the open highway. But that much (and I think rather unfairly) maligned car was considered by many to be a rather sad specimen even as the smallest, cheapest car in US roads. Do we really want that little guy to become the typical pattern for an average American family car? or some chopped down open bed or station wagon verson to be promulgated as a typical hard-working "light truck"? My friends Metro was great to drive on a short trip until an adult or teenager had to sit in the back seat.

About time, Honda Accord as a European 2.2L diesel engine that gets 64 MPG. The MiniCooper D, diesel gets 74 MPG. VW has a Golf that is Hybrid / Diesel that gets 60 MPG. It's do-able, the technology is there, Hybrid / diesels are the way to go, instead of Gas / Diesels.


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