The US will target greenhouse gases emitted by cars for the first time, thanks to new regulations on exhaust emissions
The Obama administration, frustrated by Congress from acting on climate change, finalised its first national greenhouse gas limits on car exhaust emissions today. The new rules will lead to a nearly 40% increase in fuel efficiency for America's fleet of cars and light trucks by 2016, or 35.5 miles per US gallon on average.
Although car exhaust has been regulated for years, today's announcement was the first time the federal government has imposed curbs specifically targeted at carbon emissions from cars. The Environmental Protection Agency, facing resistance in Congress, has said it will delay curbing similar emissions from power plants and industry at least until next year.
Today's new tougher federal regulations were simultaneously adopted by Canada's government.
With climate change and energy legislation stalled in Congress, today's action may remain the most significant taken by the Obama administration against global warming. Obama has had limited success in getting Republicans and moderate Democrats to support energy and climate change legislation. His latest attempt to win over Republicans, opening up swaths of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic to offshore drilling, won only lukewarm support. Meanwhile, commentators accused Obama of drafting energy policy on purely political grounds.
The new standards were pioneered by the state of California, which fought for years with the auto industry and the George Bush administration to raise fuel efficiency and limit car exhaust emissions.