Great news from the White House: Fuel standards for vehicles will be tighten up soon, improving the outlook for states like California , which pushed for stricter limits without success during the last administration.
This is good progress, but as we have said in the past, “increasing fuel efficiency is good, but it is not everything.” (For similar blog posts, click here and here.)
Complementary policies are needed to change behavior and reduce vehicle miles traveled. These can include such measures as promoting zero-emissions transport modes, like walking and biking, increasing telecommuting, and improving public transportation. The impact of these policies in energy security and climate change are significant. For instance, a study funded by the American Public Transport Association indicates that the “the ‘leverage effect’ of transit on land use [in the USA] saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline – more than three times the amount of gasoline refined from the oil we import from Kuwait, and the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually”.
Again, fuel standards signify a great start by the Obama administration, but the efforts need to be coupled with promoting behavioral change through the economic stimulus package and upcoming climate and transport legislation.