Daily Video

May 20, 2009

New Environmental Standards for Cars

President Obama announced sweeping new standards on gas mileage and auto emissions.

The new standard would increase the fuel economy of vehicles sold in the United States to a minimum of 35.5 miles per gallon (cars 39 miles per gallon and trucks 30 miles per gallon) by 2016, up from the current average of 25 miles per gallon. The move cut four years off the timetable for greater fuel efficiency set by the 2007 energy bill passed by Congress.

The president said the change will save up to 1.8 billion barrels of oil, akin to taking 177 million cars off the roads.

The plan would effectively quash a feud between automakers and statehouses over emission standards — with the states coming out on top but the automakers getting the single national standard they’ve been seeking and more time to make the changes.

When put into effect the new rules will mean prices may go up $1,300 per vehicle, but the president said potential gasoline savings would be more than $2,800 over the life of that new vehicle.

This video begins with President Obama’s announcement and includes an interview with Carol Browner, assistant to President Obama for energy and climate change.


“We have set in motion a national policy aimed at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing greenhouse gas pollution for all new trucks and cars sold in the United States of America.” –President Barack Obama

“The car manufacturers, you know, needed money. They need the taxpayers’ money. They need the federal government to help them. So in order to get that help, I’m sure that President Obama said, “OK, we’re going to give you the help, but here’s what you need to do.” –Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) -California

Warm Up Questions

1. What is global warming?

2. How do cars contribute to global warming?

Discussion Questions

1. Are you surprised by these new standards? Why or why not?

2. Do you think that states, like California, should be able to make more stringent emission standards than the federal government? Why or why not?

3. Why do you think the auto industry was originally opposed to these new standards? Give some reasons why they may have changed their position.

Additional Resources

Read this trasncript


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