One Incredible Day for the Future of the Automobile

, former deputy director, Clean Vehicles | November 16, 2011, 7:59 pm EDT
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Yes, it is worth repeating. Today is one incredible day for the future of the automobile, public health, America’s oil addiction, and global warming. 

A Clean Car Checklist

  • Federal fuel economy and global warming pollution standards proposed to double efficiency and cut global warming pollution in half by 2025:
  • California outlines requirements for the sale of more than a million electric cars: 
  • California also outlines requirements for cars and trucks to cut smog-forming pollution another 75 percent by 2025: 
  • California plans to require refueling infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles as numbers rise under their electric car requirements: 

And because it deserves to be mentioned, the federal standards probably wouldn’t be so strong if not for California’s efforts to lead the way seven years ago when they put regulations in place requiring first-in-the-nation global warming pollution standards for cars.

The Future of the Automobile Shifts into High Gear

I’ve been working on these issues since I started at UCS more than ten years ago. At times it looked like clean cars were going nowhere. We weren’t able to get enough votes in Congress to pass fuel economy legislation and California had weakened their Zero Emission Vehicle requirements.

But things picked up in 2007 when Congress required average fuel economy to hit at least 35 mpg by 2020. Then things really got going in 2009 and 2010 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Highway Transportation Administration, and California got together with automakers to move that 35 mpg target ahead 4 years.

Now, with today’s announcements, it feels like the clean car future is in high gear. No, these standard’s aren’t perfect. We’re going to work to close loopholes (like weak truck standards and ignoring emissions from plugging in electric cars) and to try to get even more electric cars on the road. And lets not forget the need to kickstart the biofuels industry or clean up trucks, planes, trains, and ships (whew!).

But today’s announcements not only set the course for the automobile for the next 14 years, they are going to drive the next century of gasoline and electric car technologies. And that’s a big deal.

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