While the proposal falls short of the 62-mpg standard that environmental and public health groups had lobbied for, it represents a significant step in federal curbs on tailpipe pollution.
It would require a 5 percent annual improvement rate for cars between 2017 and 2025. Light trucks would be required to have a 3.5 percent yearly efficiency improvement between 2017 and 2021, rising to 5 percent between 2022 and 2025, according to the sources, who asked not to be named because the details have not been announced publicly.
The compromise would build upon a landmark accord President Obama forged in 2009 with automakers, environmentalists, unions and California officials, who are allowed to set their own vehicle emission standards under the Clean Air Act. California was the first state to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks. More than a dozen states have since adopted those restrictions, sparking a legal battle between U.S. automakers and California.
The White House press office issued a statement Wednesday saying the president would unveil the details of the program Friday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
“This program, which builds on the historic agreement achieved by this administration for Model Years 2012-2016, will result in significant cost savings for consumers at the pump, dramatically reduce oil consumption, cut pollution and create jobs,” the statement said.
That first-ever national program for vehicle greenhouse gas emissions mandated that by 2016 cars and light trucks must average 31.4 mpg and 250 grams per mile of carbon dioxide equivalent. In 2010, the U.S. car and light-truck fleet averaged 28.3 mpg and 314 grams per mile.
But the battle over the second round of standards was hard fought, with environmentalists, California and union officials pressing for deep cuts and auto manufacturers maintaining that it was hard to predict what fuel efficiency gains would be possible more than a decade from now. When an agreement was in doubt, California had threatened to set its own, stricter fuel efficiency requirement.
Stanley Young, spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, wrote in an e-mail Wednesday, “We anticipate that the agreement will provide strong standards that benefit the nation and recognize and build on California’s leadership role in air quality and climate protection.”
The White House originally pushed for a 56.2-mpg standard, but automakers demanded a carve-out for pickup trucks, which continue to rank among their top annual sellers. That provision lowered the average fuel efficiency gains to 54.5 mpg and won the support of Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda and Hyundai.