White House Pushes For Higher Fuel Efficiency

Originally published on June 29, 2011 5:50 pm
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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And as NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports, President Obama may have a hard time repeating his earlier success raising mileage rules.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN: Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin bristled when he heard the White House had put forward an opening bid of 56 miles per gallon by 2025.

BLOCK: It was a scenario that was placed on the table which, frankly, shocked me.

SHOGREN: Gina McCarthy heads the air pollution programs for the Environmental Protection Agency.

BLOCK: We're not wedded to a particular number. We're just looking to see right now what type of technology improvements the car companies think they can make and how we would interpret that in our standards.

SHOGREN: Still, some industry representatives are nervous. Gloria Bergquist is the vice president of the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers.

BLOCK: All 12 of my members are equally troubled by the reported numbers that have been coming out, largely because they are essentially an electric vehicle mandate.

SHOGREN: Mary Nichols chairs California's Air Resources Board. She doesn't think 56 miles per gallon is a real number, but she likes it.

BLOCK: I can certainly say that it's in the right direction. It's definitely in the ballpark of discussion.

SHOGREN: Nichols says her state is obligated by law to slash greenhouse gases from vehicles. She expects by 2030, all new cars sold in California will be advanced vehicles of some kind, and that requires a rapid technology shift.

BLOCK: We're there at the table as a full partner because we have our own legal authority that we're using here.

SHOGREN: Elizabeth Shogren, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.