Clean air doesn’t need to be expensive. And it won’t be under new federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency, in response to a directive by the Obama administration, unveiled new federal rules that would limit emissions and set more stringent fuel economy standards for cars and trucks starting in 2016. The regulations are expected to save the consumer about $4,000 in gasoline expenditures over the lifetime of a new vehicle. But more importantly, they are essential to the preservation of the environment. Automakers should work aggressively to meet the long-overdue standards by the government’s deadline.

On Thursday, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation released a new set of regulations that would be the first restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and the largest increase in fuel economy standards since their inception in 1970. Under the new emissions standards, passenger vehicle fleets are expected to average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. Automobile greenhouse gas emissions are expected to fall 21 percent below current projected levels by 2030 with the new regulation.

The new rules are crucial for the preservation of the environment. The U.S. is one of the largest polluters of greenhouse gases in the world. And vehicles account for one-fifth of American emissions, according to an Apr. 1 editorial by The New York Times. These emissions contribute to global warming by trapping heat inside the planet’s atmosphere and raising the temperature of the earth. By restricting the amount of these gases that are released into the atmosphere through vehicle emissions, the government has demonstrated its commitment to combat climate change. This will help set a global standard and curb the damage of global warming and pollution.

Higher fuel economy standards will help Americans save money. Like many environmentally friendly initiatives, the initial cost will be recouped in savings later on. The initial cost of new vehicles will increase by an EPA-estimated $985 for 2016 models, but buyers will save around $4,000 on fuel expenses in the long term, as reported in an Apr. 2 Washington Post article. Spending less on gas will leave consumers with more disposable income to spend in other parts of the economy.

This move was a necessary one for the Obama administration. It set boundaries for an industry known for prioritizing profits over the environment. Automakers have, until recently, been loath to respond to the rising demand for more fuel-efficient cars. But the vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Gloria Berquist, has called the new requirement a “roadmap for future fuel-economy increases.” While it’s encouraging that automakers are on board with the new regulations, the rules should be seen as a guide for the future development of the automotive industry.

The new regulations will lower greenhouse gas emissions that are dangerous for the environment, and come with the bonus of saving consumers money. Automakers must show their dedication to a cleaner environment and their patrons by working diligently to meet the new regulations by 2016. And the Obama administration should continue to ensure proper enforcement of the regulations.

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