Cantwell Statement on Higher Vehicle Efficiency Requirements

“Fuel economy isn’t just a number on a car’s window sticker,” says Cantwell

SEATTLE, WA—U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released this statement regarding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) announcement to raise corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for passenger cars and light trucks to over 49 miles per gallon (mpg) by model year 2026. Cantwell chairs the Senate Commerce, Science, and Technology Committee which oversees NHTSA. She played a pivotal role in securing enactment of bipartisan legislation in 2007 which raised fuel economy standards for the first time in a quarter-century, and serves as the basis for the Administration’s announcement today.  

“Fuel economy isn’t just a number on a car’s window sticker – it’s one of the best tools we have to bolster national security, fight climate change, and make transportation cheaper for everyone. The new standards will lessen our dependence on oil from OPEC and Russia, reduce carbon emissions, and decrease the per-mile costs of driving.” said Cantwell. “Incentivizing the use of more efficient and electric vehicles nationwide is also a critical boost to Washington state in meeting our goal of phasing out gas-powered cars by 2030.”

The new standards require light duty vehicles to improve their fuel efficiency by 8 percent annually for model years 2024 and 2025, followed by a 10 percent increase for model year 2026. 

NHTSA estimates that these standards will:

  • Save consumers nearly $1,400 in total fuel expenses over the lifetimes of vehicles produced in these model years.
  • Reduce oil consumption by 234 billion gallons of gas between model years 2030 to 2050.
  • Reduce carbon emissions by 2.5 billion metric tons

In Washington state, the transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, making up 44.9% of all emissions.

Senator Cantwell has been a leader in fighting to protect the climate and clean car standards. In 2007, she was a leader in introducing a measure to raise the average fuel economy standards for all vehicles to 35 miles per gallon by 2019. This bill introduced the first mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in 32 years.  In 2018 she opposed the Trump administration’s rollback of fuel economy standards and joined her colleagues in urging the Department of Transportation to reject the revised rule. That same year Cantwell introduced a resolution to protect vehicle efficiency rules and called for bipartisan action on climate change. In 2020, Cantwell joined her colleagues in introducing a bill to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.