Press Releases

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) today applauded the announcement by the Obama Administration that it intends to issue a proposed rule-making to increase fleetwide fuel economy standards for automobiles and light trucks to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. The deal will align, or ensure functional equivalence between, the vehicular emission standards and fuel economy standards issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), respectively.

The announced draft rule-making mirrors the fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards of the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy law, which was authored by Senators Feinstein and Snowe. That fuel economy law, enacted by Congress as part of the comprehensive 2007 energy bill, requires that corporate average fuel economy standards for cars, light trucks and SUVs reach a fleetwide minimum of no less than 35 mpg by 2020, and that the increases be set by the maximum feasible rate, beginning in Model Year 2011.  Recent analyses by both EPA and NHTSA confirm that the standard announced today – 35.5 mpg – is consistent with the maximum feasible standard required by the Ten-in-Ten law.

“This is a huge victory,” Senator Feinstein said. “The fuel economy approach announced by the White House today fulfills the mandate and the structure of the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act, which I championed with Senator Snowe for many years. 

This proposed rule-making will achieve the 35 miles per gallon target in almost half the time – and it establishes a national standard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in line with California’s Pavley emissions standard. This will align, for the first time ever, the emissions and fuel economy standards issued by the State of California, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And the deal provides the automakers the certainty and the flexibility they need to comply with these rigorous new fuel economy and emissions targets.

I applaud the White House for bringing all parties to the table – California officials, the automakers, the autoworkers, environmental leaders, EPA and NHTSA – and getting everyone to sign on the dotted line for an ambitious standard. This is a milestone that was many years in the making.”

“The President’s landmark announcement to boldly utilize the 2007 Feinstein-Snowe legislation and raise our nation’s fuel economy to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 is a watershed moment in our country’s environmental history and hopefully the launch of a strategy to finally establish national energy security,” Senator Snowe said.  “The fact that the automobile industry supports today’s announcement is a testament to the flexibility of the attribute based system that Senator Feinstein and I pioneered and I am encouraged that the culmination of nearly a decade of our work is translating into a historic reduction in our nation’s consumption of foreign oil.  Congress must now act swiftly to enact a comprehensive, bipartisan energy plan that builds on this decision and invests in energy efficiency and further reduces carbon emissions by levels that science dictates.”

The Ten-in-Ten law modernized the process used by NHTSA to set Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards, by requiring that the new standards be based on the attributes of vehicles, such as size and engine. The law also phases out the flexible fuel credit system; and to allow automakers that greatly exceed fuel economy standards to sell their excess fuel economy credits to other automakers.  These principles are included in the deal announced today at the White House.

Finally, the Ten-in-Ten law clearly and unquestionably protected existing rights and obligations under the Clean Air Act for both the State of California and the EPA to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases.  By protecting those rights, the 2007 law assured that no single Federal and state standard would be established without accomplishing the greenhouse gas emissions reductions required under California law at the Federal level.