(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said on a conference call this afternoon that the Obama Administration hopes to make an announcement about new fuel efficiency standards as early as this fall.
LaHood said he knows gas prices are a hot topic right now and that "high gasoline prices are killing family budgets." He added that President Obama has "told everybody in this administration (it's) 'all hands on deck' when it comes to getting gasoline prices down and getting people into more fuel-efficient cars."
Goals for the government-dictated fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks (also known as corporate average fuel economy, or the CAFE standard) increase fuel efficiency by 5% a year from 2012 through 2016. Automakers are financially penalized if they don't meet these standards.
LaHood said arriving at the post-2016 CAFE standard is a work in progress, and he resisted attempts to be pinned down to what that number might be. "If I knew what the standard was, I'd be announcing it today," he said. "Based on the work that people are doing, we'll have an announcement in the fall." When pressed, he said "I don't even know what the number is! The number is being developed."
TN also asked the secretary when an announcement would be made about awarding the $2.4 billion in high-speed rail money that Florida rejected earlier this year. LaHood would only say "next week." Illinois politicians said this week that that state had won $186 million to make improvements on its Chicago-to-St. Louis rail corridor.
The call was held to preview President Obama's trip to Indianapolis tomorrow to visit Allison Transmission, a company that builds hybrid propulsion systems. Heather Zichal, the deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate policy, was also on the call.
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