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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cleaner Cars, A to D

The Obama administration has proposed new stickers for cars and light trucks that will make it easier to see whether you are buying a fuel-efficient one or a guzzler, and how much it contributes to global warming. The stickers are a symbol of how far this country has come in providing a wider range of environmentally responsible choices to help ensure cleaner air and a healthier planet.

The present labels, created three decades ago, display fuel economy estimates for city and highway driving. The administration is offering two possible variants, the winner to be chosen after a public comment period.

Both would include the traditional miles-per-gallon metric plus an estimate of the vehicle’s greenhouse gas emissions, expressed in terms of grams per mile, as well as an estimate of annual fuel costs. One would assign a letter grade for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from A+ to D. The other would not, but both systems would provide enough information for consumers to make sound choices.

This achievement took 10 years, moving along several tracks. It began with a petition asking the Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to set vehicle standards for emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. First California, then a number of other states, joined the effort. In 2007, after the Bush administration balked, the Supreme Court effectively ordered the federal government to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles.

Two years later, President Obama announced a historic agreement combining the first major increase in fuel efficiency standards in 30 years (to a fleetwide average of 34.1 m.p.g. by 2016) with the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions. There is more to come. The new standards cover the model years 2012 to 2016. Within the next couple of years, Mr. Obama will propose even stricter standards for the model years 2017 to 2025.

By then we could be looking at cars that get 60 miles per gallon — with new stickers.

View the original article here