U.S., Canada hike car fuel efficiency, set CO2 standard

Thu Apr 1, 2010 5:54pm EDT
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By Timothy Gardner and David Ljunggren

WASHINGTON/OTTAWA (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday finalized its first greenhouse gas emissions rules on automobiles and hiked fuel efficiency standards for the first time since the 1970s, measures Canada imposed as well.

The U.S. rules will first apply to 2012 model cars, rolling off production lines next year. They are part of President Barack Obama's goal to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by about 17 percent under 2005 levels by the year 2020.

Obama wants Congress to pass a long-delayed climate bill, but to push it along, he has also set in motion steps for the Environmental Protection Agency to begin regulating emissions from cars and large polluters like power plants.

The EPA determined late last year that emissions of the gases blamed for global warming harm human health. The agency's authority to do so has been challenged by industry groups and lawmakers in courts and in Congress. Thursday's emissions rule marked EPA's first move to cut output of the chemicals.

"We've developed a clean cars program that is a win for automakers and drivers, a win for innovators and entrepreneurs, and a win for our planet," said Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the EPA, which finalized the fuel rules with the Department of Transportation.

The efficiency rules, which car-makers knew for months were coming, require that cars and trucks get on average 35.5 miles per gallon (15 kilometers per liter) by 2016, up 42 percent from current rules, of just under 25 miles per gallon.

The EPA spelled out on Thursday for the first time that average vehicle emissions will be limited to 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile by 2016, down from 295 grams in 2012.

Canada's government also finalized fuel efficiency rules on Thursday. Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice said Canada and the United States "will effectively share common standards" for limiting vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.   Continued...