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Obama Announces New Automobile Emissions, Mileage Standards

President Barack Obama today announced new emissions and mileage standards for automobiles sold in the United States. By 2016, passenger cars will be required to average 39 miles per gallon and light trucks 30 miles per gallon; the new regulations begin with the 2012 model year and call for 5 percent average annual increases. "For the first time in history, we have set in motion a national policy aimed at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States," Obama said in his announcement at the White House. "At a time of historic crisis in our auto industry, when domestic auto manufacturers are making painful choices and restructuring their businesses to be viable in the future, this rule provides the clear certainty that will allow these companies to plan for a future in which they are building the cars of the 21st century." The New York Times reports that the new rules echo those that the state of California has sought to implement for the better part of the past decade over the objections of the auto industry and the Bush administration, and that a number of industry and government lawsuits will be voluntarily dropped as a result of the single standard. Obama said the standards would result in saving 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years. He also acknowledged that the new rules will require automakers to pass along cost increases to customers, an average of $1,300 per vehicle, but said customers should recoup that money through gas savings over a three-year period.

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