Exciting Day to Begin!

I join the Overbrook blog with great excitement, especially considering the growing prominence of environmental issues in the news and our daily lives. Today's news is especially good, combining business, policy and climate change science to inch the United States toward a more sustainable future.

President Obama is expected to announce a plan laying out the most aggressive federal fuel economy standards yet, along with limits on vehicle emissions for the first time ever. According to an article in today's New York Times, Safe Climate Campaign director Daniel Becker called the new legislation the "single biggest step the American government has ever taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions."

So what exactly is this big step? Following the plan, cars and light trucks will be almost 40 percent cleaner by 2016, with average fuel efficiency rising from 23 to 30 mpg for light trucks, and 27.5 to 35.5 mpg for passenger vehicles. According to the Wall Street Journal, a senior administration official likened those emissions reductions to the removal of 177 million cars from American roads, or the shuttering of 194 coal-fired power plants.

But even though the proposed improvements in gas mileage are vast, couldn't we still do better? Technology does exist to power even more efficient vehicles. One step in the right direction is Chrysler's partnership with Fiat, hailed by thedailygreen as the maker of a 50 mpg vehicle that spews the least carbon emissions in all of Europe.

After years of resistance, American car makers are complying with the new rules, which will take effect in 2012. A federal standard makes life a little easier for the auto industry since it can now concentrate on creating one fleet of fuel efficient vehicles, as opposed to making specific cars to serve only a few states. Additional production costs will average about $1,300 for each new car, but the consumers who foot the bill should save enough in gasoline to make that up within three years.