Let’s count the ways to support new fuel-economy standards

New fuel-economy standards for American-made automobiles and light trucks recently adopted by the Obama administration carry a multitude of potential perks for American consumers, the global environment and the Mahoning Valley economy. As such, all players in the race to meet or exceed them should embrace the exciting challenges and tangible rewards they promise.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies have finalized regulations to make auto companies nearly double the average gas mileage of all new cars and trucks they produce by 2025. All new vehicles must average 54.5 miles per gallon in 13 years under the new standards.

The standards endorsed by General Motors Co. and other U.S. automakers will lead manufacturers to rev up development of electrified vehicles as well as sharply improve the mileage of their mass-market gasoline- powered models through techniques such as more-efficient engines and lighter car bodies.

These Corporate Average Fuel Economy program standards pack in many tangible pluses. Let’s zoom in on five of the most exciting of them:

1. Greater energy independence from troublesome Middle East and other foreign sources. The administration called the new rules “historic” and estimated that Americans would reduce their oil consumption by 12 billion barrels over the course of the program. “These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” President Barack Obama said.

2.Savings at the pump for millions of American drivers. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, said the standards would save Americans $1.7 trillion in fuel costs annually, resulting in an average savings of more than $8,000 per vehicle by 2025. That would offset greatly the additional $2,800 sticker price officials estimate will be needed for compliance.

3. A cleaner environment through lessening of emissions of greenhouse gases. According to the administration, the standards will cut greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and light trucks in half by 2025, reducing emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program – more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010.

4. Encouragement of technological advances in the auto industry and other sectors of the American economy. The new CAFE standards will spur investment in advanced technologies that should increase U.S. economic competitiveness in the global economy and support new high-quality jobs at home.

5. Potential positive impact on the Mahoning Valley economy. The accent of the new standards on small cars cannot help but benefit the GM Lordstown complex, which has specialized in small-car manufacturing since its opening in 1966 and is enjoying unparalleled success with its current hot-selling Cruze model. The accent on research on new and innovative manufacturing technologies could prove to be a valuable mission of the city’s new National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in downtown Youngstown, the $70 million center that opens officially this week.

With so much going for them, it’s not surprising that groups as diverse as big business, organized labor and environmental advocates have championed the new fuel-economy levels. All should join in working to meet or beat the 2025 deadline for their full implementation.

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