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

April 05, 2006

DOT Sets New Fuel Economy Standards for Light Trucks

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) introduced new fuel economy standards for light trucks on March 29th, including the first-ever standards for the largest sport utility vehicles. The new fuel economy standards increase the miles-per-gallon target for light trucks from 21.6 to 24 miles per gallon, an 11 percent increase. According to DOT, the new standards will save more than 250 million gallons per year just by including some of the largest sport utility vehicles on the market today, those with a gross vehicle weight rating of between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds. The changes constitute the first complete reform of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program for pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, and minivans since its inception in 1979. See the DOT press release.

The new rule also elaborates on DOT's conclusion that any state regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles is prohibited under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), which sets the legal basis for fuel economy standards. According to DOT, the EPCA prohibits any state laws or standards relating to fuel economy standards, and because greenhouse gas emission regulations effectively regulate fuel economy, such regulations are not permitted. The discussion can be found on pages 288 through 339 of the final rule. See the final rule (PDF 1.4 MB). Download Adobe Reader.