President Barack Obama this week took the next big step when it comes to fuel efficiency standards by increasing the U.S. average for cars and light trucks to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
The move is being touted by both environmentalists, who see it as a way to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and pursue alternative fuel sources, and those who are interested in freeing the U.S. from dependence on foreign oil.
“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.
However, some are saying the move will cripple the U.S. infrastructure and is a direct attack on personal liberties, not to mention safety, because increased fuel efficiency will only be available in much smaller cars.
Previously, the standard was to be increased to 35.5 mpg by 2016, but the Obama administration felt the nation could do better. They also say the new standard will not only increase fuel efficiency and lower greenhouse gases, it will also spur innovation as automakers seek to bridge the divide between what the consumer wants and what the government wants them to provide.
The new fuel efficiency standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion in gasoline costs and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels over the period, according to the White House.
And automakers say they are up to the task.
The fact is the United States is lagging behind most other industrialized nations when it comes to fuel efficiency. This is especially significant that for most of the 20th century the U.S. was a leader in innovation and technology. What is required now is a massive national effort to turn around manufacturing and technology industries and the Obama administration seems to be pursuing this.
Whether or not the automobile industry will be able to meet this new demand, and whether or not subsequent administrations will hold them to these new standards remains to be seen, but for now at least, it appears they are on the right track.