AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine environmentalists celebrated the adoption of new federal regulations that will nearly double the average gas mileage of new cars and trucks by 2025, calling them a major step toward reducing global warming while saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in reduced fuel costs.
"Future generations may well look back on today as a decisive step toward breaking our destructive oil addiction," said Emily Figdor, director of Environment Maine.
The regulations finalized Tuesday by the Obama administration require the fleet of new cars and trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon in 13 years, up from 28.6 mpg at the end of last year. President Barack Obama said in a statement that the new fuel standards "represent the single most important step" his administration has taken to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, a claim echoed by environmental groups in Maine.
Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said the regulations will not only lesson America's oil thirst, but also cut gasoline costs in half, lower emissions of global warming pollution and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
"These standards show that companies, workers, government, consumer and conservation interests can work together and find solutions to the biggest problems that face us today," Pohlmann said.
Adam Lee, president of the Lee Auto Malls chain of car dealerships, said the appearance of more fuel-efficient vehicles will save Maine drivers 195 million gallons of gasoline and $610 million a year when the standards take full effect.
Lee, also board chairman of the statewide energy-conservation effort Efficiency Maine, added that the new standards will spur innovation and put people to work. He cited a study by the BlueGreen Alliance, a mix of unions and environmental organizations, that estimates 570,000 jobs could be created by the fuel efficiency standards as they spark auto industry investments and consumer savings.
Environment Maine's Figdor said Maine played a role in prompting the new standards. Long before Obama took office, California, Maine and 12 other states were developing and implementing their own state-level clean car standards, she noted.