Foreign Policy Blogs

Better CAFE

CAFE – That stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy.  What President Obama announced today was a much higher federal requirement, negotiated with the car companies, for more miles per gallon on average for cars sold in the United States.  As we know, Lower Gasoline Consumption = Lower GHG Output.  How much?  Billions of tons of carbon dioxide!

The heads of all of the Big Three American automakers were there with Obama today, along with the heads of most of the major international car manufacturers with operations in the US.  The head of the United Auto Workers was there, as well as the heads of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, and Department of Transportation, Ray LaHood.  It was an impressive line-up.

This is yet another milestone on the path that the Obama Administration has been taking to address energy and the climate.  In spite of the protestations of people who I respect – like Joe Romm, Betsy Kolbert, Al Gore and Bill McKibben – that Obama has not done enough, I think this is yet another example of many of making real world progress.  I have documented a lot of these breakthroughs and initiatives in the past two and a half years.  Believe me, I would not be shy about calling out the President and his administration if I didn’t think he was taking care of business, but the evidence, from his appointments to his negotiated agreements to his backing EPA on a regulatory regime for greenhouse gases, to his executive orders mandating energy efficiency and renewables to his work furthering climate negotiations bilaterally and multilaterally, to his putting plenty of money on the table in loan guarantees and green stimulus, shows he and his people have been doing world changing work.

This new mandate will further drive our progress toward radically more fuel-efficient vehicles, very much including electric vehicles.  As the director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Clean Vehicles Program said in their release:  “These standards will give our cars and trucks a technology makeover.”  Her counterpart at the Natural Resources Defense Council said here:  “This is the single biggest step the president can take to lower drivers’ gas bills and cut heat-trapping pollution at the same time.”

For more on the oil savings, consumer, and environmental benefits, see Driving Efficiency:  Cutting Costs for Families at the Pump and Slashing Dependence on Oil.



Bill Hewitt
Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change


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