Obama Sets a Shorter Timeline for Tailpipe Emissions

Climate Change Law Practice Group Blog

May 19, 2009

We have blogged a couple of times about proposed new standards for tailpipe emissions in Canada and the United States. Yesterday, President Obama's administration announced plans to put those standards into practice in 2016, four years earlier than originally expected. The program covers the 2012 model year through to the 2016 model year and, according to the White House website, "ultimately requires an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg in 2016".

In his speech, the President asserted that the new standards would have a projected reduction in oil consumption of 1.8 billion barrels over the life of the program, "more oil than [the United States] imported last year from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, and Nigeria combined". How much oil is this? In 2008 the U.S. imported 3,570,848 thousand barrels of crude oil. Of those barrels, the U.S. imported from a total of 42 different countries. The top 5 importing countries were: Canada (19.8%), Saudi Arabia (15.4%), Mexico (11.8%), Venezuela (10.6%), and Nigeria (9.4%) for a total of 67% of its imports. Of the countries mentioned by the President above, the United States imported about 0.7% of its oil from Libya in 2008. "[M]ore oil than the [United States] imported last year from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya and Nigeria combined" is equal to about 36.1% of U.S. yearly imports.

What does this mean for Canada? Environment Canada previously announced new emissions standards for Canada. Minister Prentice has said"what we're striving for is a North American standard because we know there's only one North American automobile industry". Today, the Minister confirmed that the Canadian government will match the new standards. According to the Globe and Mail, "Michael Martin, Canada's lead negotiator on international climate change talks, said the new auto standards will be one part of a 'suite of policies' that Canada will be adopting before" Copenhagen in December. This is further evidence of Canada's commitment to address climate change in North America.

We will be carefully monitoring what other policies are in that suite…