President Obama yesterday – for the first time in history – set in motion a new national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States, according to a White House press release.

The new standards, covering model years 2012-2016, and ultimately requiring an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg in 2016, are projected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program with a fuel economy gain averaging more than five percent per year and a reduction of approximately 900 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions, according to the White House. This would surpass the CAFE law passed by Congress in 2007 required an average fuel economy of 35 mpg in 2020.

This new policy represents what the White House calls an “unprecedented” collaboration between the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the world’s largest auto manufacturers, the United Auto Workers, leaders in the environmental community, the State of California, and other state governments.

"The President brought all stakeholders to the table and came up with a plan to help the auto industry, safeguard consumers, and protect human health and the environment for all Americans," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "A supposedly 'unsolvable' problem was solved by unprecedented partnerships. As a result, we will keep Americans healthier, cut tons of pollution from the air we breathe, and make a lasting down payment on cutting our greenhouse gas emissions."

"A clear and uniform national policy is not only good news for consumers who will save money at the pump, but this policy is also good news for the auto industry which will no longer be subject to a costly patchwork of differing rules and regulations," said Carol M. Browner, assistant to the President for energy and climate change.

A national policy on fuel economy standards and greenhouse gas emissions is welcomed by the auto manufacturers, according to the White House, because it provides regulatory certainty and predictability and includes flexibilities that will significantly reduce the cost of compliance. The collaboration of federal agencies also allows for clearer rules for all automakers, instead of three standards (DOT, EPA and a state standard).