Motor vehicle fuel-economy standards have long been a cornerstone of U.S. policy to reduce fuel consumption in the light-duty vehicle fleet. In 2011 and 2012 these standards were significantly expanded in an effort to achieve steep reductions in oil demand and greenhouse gas emissions through 2025, consistent with long-term U.S. policy goals. As a policy approach, however, standards that focus on efficiency alone, as opposed to lifetime consumption, impose unnecessarily high costs and do not deliver guaranteed petroleum savings. On the basis of a commitment to cost-benefit analysis, defining U.S. regulatory policy for more than 30 years, we propose a novel policy solution that would implement a cap-and-trade system in transportation. Acknowledging that the very idea of cap and trade has become controversial, we show that this approach would increase the certainty of reductions in fuel consumption in transportation and do so at a far lower cost per gallon avoided. Such an approach is consistent with the regulatory authority existing at key federal agencies.
[On the Global Climate Action Summit] I think that this summit’s been very useful. It’s a demonstration of activism, it’s a demonstration of will, it’s a demonstration of engagement by all sorts of sub-national players, and I think that’s all been tremendously useful. But, it doesn’t fill the gap of the absence of the United States at a national level. The US federal government can drive action all around the entire country, not just state-by-state.