by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
Environmental groups lauded former President Clinton Thursday for defending the Obama administration’s requirement that cars get higher gas mileage during his speech to the Democratic convention.
Republicans, including GOP nominee Mitt Romney, have called the requirement that cars get at least 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 “extreme.” The GOP has argued that increasing the amount of miles that cars are required to get will cause prices for automobiles to go up.
But in his virtuoso speech to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. on Wednesday, Clinton said the new emission requirements would be a “good deal” for drivers.
“It will cut your gas prices in half, your gas bill,” Clinton said. “No matter what the price is, if you double the mileage of your car, your bill will be half what it would have been.”
Clinton extolled the emission standards for doing more than saving drivers money.
“It will make us more energy independent. It will cut greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “And according to several analyses, over the next 20 years, it’ll bring us another half a million good new jobs into the American economy.”
Under the rules Clinton was touting, automakers would have to produce cars that achieve higher miles per gallon beginning in 2017, culminating in the 54.5 miles per gallon requirement in 2025. The Obama administration has said the rules will provide an average fuel cost savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 over the lifetime of a vehicle.
The defense from the former president was greatly appreciated by environmental groups that pushed for the new mileage requirements, which were finalized by the Obama administration last month.
“The recently finalized standards are historic and vital to our economy and environment, as President Clinton stated last night during his speech,” BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster said in a statement that was provided to The Hill.
“We know the 2017-2025 light-duty fuel efficiency standards will create an estimated 570,000 jobs — 50,000 in auto manufacturing and assembly alone,” Foster continued. “Cleaner cars mean a brighter future for the American workers and their families.”
The New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council agreed, saying that Clinton was “right” in his assessment of the new auto emission rules.
“President Clinton was right last night — Better gas mileage standards are a win-win-win for the American people,” the NRDC said in a statement. “President Obama’s standards are good for our pocket books, and will lead to cleaner air and a healthier people. They also will reduce carbon pollution that drives climate change. What’s there not to like about these new performance standards?”
Clinton’s comments were the highest-profile mention of the fuel efficiency standards at either party’s nominating convention. Republicans focused most of their examples of government “overreach” on healthcare, and most of the transportation talk from Democrats has involved touting the bailout of the U.S. auto industry.