One of the outcomes of the original OPEC oil embargo of 1973-4 was passage of the 1975 law to create the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standard. The initial standard was set at 18 mpg for passenger cars in 1978. This increased over time to 27.5 mpg for cars and 20.2 mpg for light trucks in 1990. They remained frozen at roughly this same level before beginning to climb up again in 2011.
Then, in 2012, the Obama Administration updated the rules based on a landmark compromise with automakers. The new CAFÉ regime ramped up standards in two stages: The first covered model years 2012 to 2016, and the second covers MY 2017 to 2025. By the end of Phase 2, CAFÉ standards will roughly double to 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg). The Administration also created a similar regime for truck efficiency. During the first phase, off-the-shelf technologies will ratchet up truck efficiency by 10%, then in ten subsequent years through 2027, trucks and trailers need to become about 2.5% more efficient each year through a combination of proven and some still unproven technologies.
Now, the auto CAFÉ standards are facing a two-front assault. First, a group of six senators led by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced a bill that would roll back clean cars standards. According to opponents of the bill, the legislation would result in 350 million barrels of additional oil being burned, 155 million metric tons of additional carbon pollution, and $34 billion in additional fuel costs for American drivers.
Second, in March of 2017, President Trump ordered agencies to reevaluate the clean cars standards.
Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO) supports both the CAFÉ auto and truck efficiency standards based on their ability to save consumers money, increase energy security, benefit the environment and promote economic growth in Ohio and the U.S. generally.
“These federal fuel economy standards are driving up innovation and driving down costs,” said Sam Spofforth, Executive Director of Clean Fuels Ohio, at an event spearheaded by National Wildlife Federation on September 27 at the Ohio Statehouse. “We need to maintain the standards, and with them, the market momentum and technology innovation that will help provide good jobs, clean air and a sustainable environment.”
Advanced fuels and vehicles will play a critical role in achieving both auto and truck efficiency standards. Electric vehicles are about four times as energy efficient as a comparable conventional vehicle. Today, the Chevy Volt achieves 106 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe), Ford CMax Energi gets 95 MPGe, the Nissan Leaf’s rating is 112 MPGe, and the Tesla X AWD gets 89 MPGe. On the truck side, utilization of natural gas earns additional mileage ratings based on the lower net GHG emissions of conventional CNG, and enormous, near-zero net GHG emissions from renewable natural gas.
Clean Fuels Ohio will continue to track legislation related to any rollback of the standards, as well as the public comment period for the Trump Administration’s process at USEPA. For additional information or to become involved, contact Jason Phillips at CFO, (614) 884-7336.