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Praise for proposed fuel economy rules at Detroit EPA hearing

Ian Britton

Union leaders, environmental groups and some auto industry representatives are applauding new fuel efficiency standards proposed by President Obama.

The Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on the new rules in Detroit Tuesday.

The Obama administration’sproposed ruleactually measures greenhouse gas emissions. But when translated into the usual lingo, that’s about 54 miles per gallon—roughly double the current standard.

Environmentalists, like National Wildlife Federation CEO Larry Schweiger, are thrilled.

“This is the biggest single step America has taken to cut carbon pollution and to reduce our dependence,” Schweiger said.

Carmakers and unions had long opposed such stringent standards, calling them job-killers that make new cars too expensive.

But the Detroit automakers and the UAW are on board this time. They think it’s technologically and economically feasible now, the time frame is long enough to adjust, and they’d rather have one aggressive national standard than different state regulations.

UAW President Bob King credited Detroit carmakers for signing on to the new rules, and the Obama administration for what he calls an inclusive rules-making process.

 “All three of the companies really listened to environmentalists, listened to government, and listened to labor,” King said. “So I think the process of creative problem solving really created a great result.”

King says he believes the new standards will create new jobs and investment in  US manufacturing.

All parties admit the new standards will drive up new car prices somewhat. But they say customers will more than recoup that money over the life of the car.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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