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LaHood and Jackson Roll Out ‘Historic’ Auto Emissions and Efficiency Guidelines

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson just announced a new set of automobile guidelines on a conference call with reporters — a program that aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles by 30 percent and increase fuel efficiency by 40 percent over the coming years.

LaHood emphasized that the new guidelines will benefit not only the planet, but also American drivers, who will see their fuel costs drop as vehicles become more efficient.

“Putting more fuel-efficient cars on the road isn’t just the right thing to do for the environment,” he said. “It’s also a great way for Americans to save more at the pump.”

Jackson, who called the guidelines “historic” and a “win-win program for our economy and the environment,” added that they will also benefit American innovators, who will work to develop more efficient car parts and new batteries, and will mean “$2.3 billion that can stay at home in our economy rather than buying oil overseas.”

In response to a question from FOX News about whether this move has implications for further regulation of greenhouse gases, Jackson said the program will show people that emissions can be easily regulated, without harmful consequences to the economy. “It puts to rest these doomsday scenarios” about greenhouse gas regulations, she said. This is only the first step in regulating emissions, she emphasized; “the president’s big plan for dealing with energy and climate is new legislation.”

The guidelines drew immediate praise from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which has long advocated national emissions and efficiency regulations rather than patchwork state-by-state rules.

“America needs a roadmap to reduced dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gases, and only the federal government can play this role,” Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Alliance, said in a press release. “Today, the federal government has laid out a course of action through 2016, and now we need to work on 2017 and beyond.”

*Update: *Elana Schor has some more details on the new guidelines, which would raise average vehicle efficiency to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. The rules are more lax for luxury car manufacturers like Mercedes and BMW; they will have extra time to comply.

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