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White House rep. visits University for fuel efficiency panel

By Steve Zoski, Daily Staff Reporter
Published August 29, 2012

A day after the Obama administration set new fuel efficiency standards, a White House official visited the Michigan Union for a panel discussion on fuel efficiency with Central Student Government members, students and other local officials.

Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was joined by former Democratic congressman Mark Schauer, U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D–Mich.), and Cindy Estrada, a United Auto Workers vice president.

The White House claims the standards — which require cars to reach the fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 — are equivalent to saving future drivers one dollar per gallon of fuel.

“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.

At the event, which was closed to press, the panelists answered the audience’s questions about how new fuel efficiency standards will affect automakers, engineers and car buyers.

In an interview after the event, Sutley said the visit was appropriate because of the region’s automotive aptitude.

“It seemed like a really great place to come and engage with people about a really important thing that will (last) long past when you’re a student (and) have an effect on your life, on your pocketbook and on your environment,” Sutley said.

Sutley said the standards, which begin to take effect in 2016, are a sign that the Obama administration is working with the auto industry for solutions that will last long after the administration leaves the White House.

“(It gives) the auto industry the certainty it needs to build those ever-more fuel efficient cars,” Sutley said. “It gives them what they need to build cars now for the next dozen years, so that seemed like a pretty good deal to us, and we’ll all long be gone from Washington by the end of this, and that is really I think a model for how we can attack these problems, not just for today.”

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misidentified a UAW vice president. Her name is Cindy Estrada.