This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 28, 2009

President Obama Issues Orders on Fuel Economy and GHG Regulations

Photo of President Obama seated at a table and signing a document as a man and a woman stand at his side. A U.S. flag hangs behind the president.

President Obama signs the presidential memoranda as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson look on.
Credit: The White House

President Barack Obama issued a pair of memoranda on January 26 to address the fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions of our nation's automobiles. The president directed the secretary of transportation to publish higher fuel economy standards for the model year 2011 cars and light trucks by the end of March and to reevaluate the proposed standards for future model years. Automakers will generally begin selling model year 2011 vehicles in the fall of 2010. President Obama also directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revisit a California waiver request that would allow that state to implement its own greenhouse gas (GHG) emission rules for vehicles. The federal Clean Air Act only allows California to set emission standards that deviate from federal rules, and any California standards require a waiver from the EPA. But once California enacts its own standards, the act allows other states to adopt the rules set in California. So even though the waiver request applies specifically to California, more than a dozen other states intend to implement the California GHG rules for vehicles if the waiver is granted.

"It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil, while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs," said President Obama. "We hold no illusion about the task that lies ahead. I cannot promise a quick fix; no single technology or set of regulations will get the job done. But we will commit ourselves to steady, focused, pragmatic pursuit of an America that is free from our energy dependence and empowered by a new energy economy that puts millions of our citizens to work."

Regarding the new memoranda, President Obama noted that "our goal is not to further burden an already struggling industry," but rather "to help America's automakers prepare for the future." The president also touted the promise of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that is now working its way through Congress. According to President Obama, the plan will double the U.S. capacity to generate renewable energy over the next three years and "will lay down 3,000 miles of transmission lines to deliver this energy to every corner of our country." The plan will also invest in energy efficiency, making 75% of federal buildings more energy efficient while weatherizing the homes of two million families. See the president's announcement and the memoranda on fuel economy standards and California GHG regulations on the White House Web site.