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Feds set aggressive fuel economy standards

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The U.S. Department of Transportation, working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has set new, aggressive standards for passenger and light truck fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission levels.

Specifically, new standards require that by the 2016 model year, new vehicle manufacturers must achieve a combined average vehicle emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile -- equivalent to 35.5 miles per gallon.

Government officials claim new standards will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 960 million metric tons, equal, they claim, to "taking 50 million cars and light trucks off the road in 2030."

Starting with 2012 model year vehicles, auto manufacturers will be required to improve fleet-wide fuel economy and reduce fleet-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 5% every year.

A press release issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) office earlier today, April 1, says the new standards are an "important step in fulfilling the Obama Administration's commitment to moving towards a clean energy, climate-friendly economy."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the standards are "ambitious, but achievable," and will save motorists money at the gas pump while "putting less pollution in the air."

"We are delivering on our mission and President Obama's call for a strong and coordinated national policy for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards... and we will do so in a way that does not compromise safety," says NHSTA Administrator David Strickland.

NHTSA expects car manufacturers to meet new standards "by more widespread adoption of conventional technlogies that are already in commercial use, such as more efficient engines, transmissions, tires, aerodynamics and materials, as well as improvements in air conditioning systems."

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