By Camille von Kaenel
Ingrid Fol chose her minivan, a 2007 Honda Odyssey, because it gets good mileage. Now that gas prices have gone down, the Northern Virginia resident said, there’s less pressure to make every gallon count.
“When it was $3-something, I would try to stay within a budget, and choose to walk or bike or combine shopping trips,” Fol said as she loaded groceries in her car in Pentagon City in Arlington, Va., with her kids after work. “Now I have more choice, and I’d do it for the exercise instead.”
Fuel economy is the Obama administration’s main strategy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. But emissions keep rising. In the first two months of 2016, greenhouse gases from transportation topped those from the power sector for the first time, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions standards have only achieved around two-thirds of the expected fleetwide fuel and emissions savings since 2010. That piles on the pressure for federal transportation agencies, which are currently in the midst of reviewing the standards’ effectiveness.
To kick off the process, they are reassessing their assumptions about technology and markets from when the rules were finalized in 2010 and 2012. The analysis is expected this week. The impact of low oil prices on the promised fuel savings, and potential new expectations for the future, will likely be a key part of the report.
“When it comes to climate, fuel economy standards are the only game in town to address impacts from transportation,” said Sam Ori, the director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. “If we’re falling short of our goals, it really behooves everyone to take a look…”
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