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Auto emissions: New greenhouse gas caps raise gas mileage standards

09 04 10 - 03:59 By Mark Clayton,




The nation's first-ever law requiring a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions goes into effect today, mandating that automakers progressively chop the amount of tail-pipe gases emitted from US cars.

The first cars to be affected by the law will be automakers' 2012 lines. By 2016, model year greenhouse gas emissions must not exceed an average of 8.8 ounces per mile - a 21 percent reduction from today's levels. To get there, vehicles' gas mileage will need to achieve on average 35.5 miles per gallon fleet wide - a 40 percent improvement from current levels. Costs to the industry for that four year period are projected to be about $52 billion - adding about $950 to the price of a car. But consumers should be able to save enough over three years to pay for the extra cost, said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson in a joint statement Thursday.

Overall, they said, the program would result in $240 billion in savings from reduced fuel costs, oil imports, and pollution.

"These historic new standards set ambitious, but achievable, fuel economy requirements for the automotive industry that will also encourage new and emerging technologies," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in prepared remarks. “We will be helping American motorists save money at the pump, while putting less pollution in the air."

What the law will do

The rule, which results from a compromise plan between the Obama Administration, states, and automakers last May, is expected to save the average buyer of a 2016 model-year car about $3,000 over the life of the vehicle, the EPA estimates. At the same time, the rule will cut the nation's oil use by 1.8 billion barrels over the vehicles' lifetimes. It is the equivalent of removing 42 million cars from the road, Ms. Jackson said.

Cars, trucks, and other transportation sources represent a big and growing share of US greenhouse gas emissions - about 28 percent of all US greenhouse gases in 2006, the EPA reports. Transportation was the "fastest-growing source" of greenhouse gases in the nation, it said, representing nearly half of the increase in total US greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.

Environmental and consumers groups applauded the move. "This represents the single largest step this country has taken to address our oil addiction, save consumers money, and cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars in at least three decades," says David Friedman, research director of the vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It's a historic move."

States in the lead

Yet he and others agree the national standards would have been unlikely without pressure from the 13 states led by California, whose legal and other actions pushed the matter to the forefront of the national climate and energy policy debate.

In response to state suits, the US Supreme Court found greenhouse gases could be considered air pollutants within the meaning of the Clean Air Act in a landmark 2007 decision. In December 2009, the EPA concluded that heat-trapping gases endangered public health and welfare. Now, under the act, the EPA has taken the first step to regulate those emissions.

Automakers were under financial and political pressure to back President Obama's program to cut tailpipe emissions and reduce fuel use last May. They were on board Thursday, too.

"America needs a road map to reduced dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gases, and only the federal government can play this role," Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the Automobile Alliance, which represents US and other automakers, said in a statement.

Regulation of large, stationary sources of carbon dioxide, such as power plants would not begin until next year and would only apply to "a small number of sources" at that time, Jackson said.

Efforts to remove EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases have been bubbling in the Senate, but have not emerged. Used tags: , , , , ,
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Low-income women learn skills for green jobs

Saturday 29 May 2010 at 11:45 am Low-income women learn skills for green jobs


By Desmond L. Marshall



Washington - Renee Owens, 36, an unemployed single mother with two kids, ages 6 and 12, was searching for work. But in a bad economy, few companies were hiring.

She has worked as an unskilled laborer at constructions sites, and her last job was at the International House of Pancakes, where she made $3.20 an hour, plus tips. Then she lost her job and was unemployed for a year and half. more

New bill would create communities for electric vehicles

Saturday 29 May 2010 at 11:39 am New bill would create communities for electric vehicles


By Desmond L. Marshall



Washington - With the Gulf oil spill in the news, three senators introduced a bill Thursday they say would reduce the use of oil.

Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., introduced the "Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010."

Alexander said the BP oil rig disaster should create more opportunities to reduce oil consumption. more

Gulf Spill Puts US Energy Bill on Slippery Slope

Saturday 29 May 2010 at 11:30 am Gulf Spill Puts US Energy Bill on Slippery Slope


By Llewellyn King



Washington - With energy, Senate Democrats find themselves between a rock and two hard places. Nonetheless, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., have introduced their climate and energy bill.

Its timing is awful. Its fate is uncertain. Yet its sponsors felt it had to be done now. more

Can electric cars break out of niche status in US, China market?

Thursday 20 May 2010 at 2:59 pm Can electric cars break out of niche status in US, China market?


By Jaeah Lee,


Beijing and New york - Interest in electric cars is surging:

- Nearly 52,000 people were wait-listed as of mid-April for General Motors' electric model, the Volt, due in November. As of March, almost 56,000 people had signed up to reserve Nissan's all-electric Leaf, due in dealerships by December.

- In China, leading automakers BYD and Chery have announced plans to roll out their own electric models within the next two years.

- Investors, too, are excited. Electric-car ventures made up nearly 40 percent of $1.9 billion invested in 180 green-technology companies worldwide in the first quarter of 2010, according to a study by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte. more

Building a Continental Renewable Super Grid

Tuesday 04 May 2010 at 10:03 pm Building a Continental Renewable Super Grid



By Roy Morrison



As the planet warms and the economy cools, renewable resources are emerging as a realistic means to solve both problems in a timely fashion. Advocates of renewable energy want trillions of dollars spent in the coming decades on a continental-scale smart grid that will slash global greenhouse gas emissions and turn society toward a prosperous and ecological future.

How can we build such a grid? What are the next steps? Are we trapped in a future of false promises on clean coal, more nuclear proliferation, resource wars for oil, rising pollution, and business as usual? more

Last chance for climate change legislation?

Thursday 29 April 2010 at 8:41 pm Last chance for climate change legislation?


By Brad Knickerbocker,


It's crunch time for climate change legislation on Capitol Hill, and the bill to be introduced Monday could be the last chance for passage before lawmakers face voters this fall.

The bill coauthored by Sens. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts, Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina, and Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut has as its main goal a 17 percent reduction in US greenhouse gas emissions (mainly carbon dioxide) from 2005 levels in 10 years and 80 percent by 2050.

It has easier requirements on emissions caps for power plants and other major contributors of greenhouse gases - easier than previous legislative proposals. It also has incentives to build new nuclear power plants. There are also provisions for offshore oil drilling.

The measure pleases no one entirely. more

Obama's gambit to marry US policies on environment and energy

Monday 19 April 2010 at 11:18 am By Mark Clayton


True, America is still guzzling fossil fuels. But since taking office just over a year ago, President Obama has quietly set the nation's energy policy on a new course.

Even as health care dominated the news, Obama energy czar Carol Browner - working with the departments of Interior, Energy, and Transportation - has established a new, unified energy-and-environment policy. But whether this focus on renewable power and energy security can succeed depends largely on whether Congress approves climate-energy legislation that puts a price on carbon emissions, energy experts say. more

Waste-hating freegans Dumpster dive for food

Sunday 18 April 2010 at 9:24 pm Waste-hating freegans Dumpster dive for food



By Megan McCourt




Washington - One night as Madeline Nelson was foraging through a Whole Foods Dumpster in Manhattan, a man gave her a look of pity and held out a dollar bill. That wasn't what she was looking for.

Nelson, 54, was searching for good-quality food that had been tossed from the store's stocks of slightly wilted produce, day-old bread and dented canned goods.

Nelson is a freegan - a mash-up of "free" and "vegan." more

Auto emissions: New greenhouse gas caps raise gas mileage standards

Friday 09 April 2010 at 03:59 am By Mark Clayton,




The nation's first-ever law requiring a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions goes into effect today, mandating that automakers progressively chop the amount of tail-pipe gases emitted from US cars.

The first cars to be affected by the law will be automakers' 2012 lines. By 2016, model year greenhouse gas emissions must not exceed an average of 8.8 ounces per mile - a 21 percent reduction from today's levels. To get there, vehicles' gas mileage will need to achieve on average 35.5 miles per gallon fleet wide - a 40 percent improvement from current levels. more

Impact of emission caps: costlier cars that will be cheaper to drive

Friday 09 April 2010 at 03:50 am By Laurent Belsie


The US government's new limits on cars' greenhouse-gas emissions represent a landmark for the environment. For consumers, they're more of a mixed bag financially.

Cars and light trucks will cost more starting in 2012. But what consumers pay up front, they'll more than make up in fuel efficiency, according to the government.

Here's how it adds up: Suppose you buy the average 2016 model, when the strictest emissions standards kick in. The extra technology needed to meet those standards will cost an average $869 for a car or $1,098 for a light truck. So your new vehicle will cost about $1,000 more than it otherwise would.

But that vehicle will be cheaper to drive. So at at average 35.5 miles per gallon, you would save enough in fuel over the first three years to make up for the extra up front cost, according to calculations by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). more