With global talks on climate change looming, the Obama administration sought to gain momentum Tuesday by unveiling its plan to require better gas mileage for cars and trucks and tougher rules on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson released the proposed regulations at the White House, the follow-up to President Barack Obama's announcement in May that the government regulations would link emissions and fuel economy standards.
"This action will give our auto companies some long-overdue clarity, stability and predictability," Obama said Tuesday during a visit to a General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio.
"This marks a significant advance in our work to protect health and the environment and move our nation to a sustainable economy in the future," Jackson said.
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The new standards call for the auto industry's fleet of new vehicles to average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.
The proposal will cover vehicle model years 2012 through 2016, allowing auto companies to comply at once with all federal requirements as well as standards pushed by California and about a dozen other states.
The administration estimated the requirements would cost up to $1,300 per new vehicle by 2016 -- but that it would take just three years to pay off that investment and that the standards would save more than $3,000 over the life of the vehicle through better gas mileage.
Jackson said the new standards will have the effect of taking 42 million cars off the road.
The proposal is expected to increase vehicle fuel efficiency by about 5 percent annually and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons. The plan would also conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil, Jackson said.