Over the next decade-plus, American motorists will find new fuel-efficient cars and trucks in showrooms that offer them the advantage of going twice as long between fill-ups.
The estimated $8,000 in fuel savings over the life of a vehicle from that technological gain alone makes the Obama administration’s launch this week of new vehicle mileage standards a milestone event — the first such boost in more than 30 years.
But for an estimated 500,000 people, the mandate that automakers achieve an average fleet fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 also means they’ll be driving to new jobs.
Many of those jobs will be generated by Detroit, as automakers invest $300 billion in tooling up to build better vehicles, but independent experts predict that other industries will also add jobs as a result of the fuel standards.
Beyond that, the benefits to the environment will be seen in reduced smog. And the nation should become more secure by being less dependent on foreign oil.
Given those gains, it’s unfortunate that partisan politics still have Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in an ideological box on this issue. Romney campaign officials this week called the new fuel standards “extreme,” due to the added cost of producing cleaner cars.
In fact, the mileage standards have earned support from automakers and environmentalists alike. President Obama smartly united the groups by sticking to an aggressive mileage goal while at the same time assuring General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and automakers that the policy would get a sensible, mid-course review.
Maybe the only thing extreme about the process was its success.