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U.S. Government, California Merge Timelines for Auto Standards

(Reuters) – U.S. federal government and California regulators will coordinate announcements of proposed fuel economy and emissions requirements for 2017-2025, the agencies said on Monday.

California will now release its fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for 2017-2025 model year cars and light-duty trucks simultaneously with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department by September 1.

The California Air Resources Board had planned to issue its new standards by March, while the federal government had said it would release its standards by the end of September.

“Today’s announcement is a big step forward, but it is only the beginning,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

By working together, LaHood said the agencies will be able to set a standard that “works for automakers across the country.”

Automakers, represented by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, are pleased with the coordinated arrangement, said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the alliance.

The coordination makes planning easier for automakers who must make product decisions years in advance of production, the alliance has said.

“Only the federal government can balance nationwide the need to reduce oil consumption and emissions with the preservation of a vital manufacturing sector that is a cornerstone of a productive national economy,” said the alliance statement.

By 2016, U.S. average fuel economy is set to reach 35.5 miles per gallon. In the most recent year measured by the EPA, the U.S. average fuel economy was 22.5 mpg, up 3.1 mpg from six years earlier, the EPA said in November.

California can set its own vehicle emissions standards with federal approval and it received the go-ahead to do so from the Obama administration. But when the federal government announced a national vehicle fuel economy and emissions-cutting plan that was strong like California’s, the state agreed to harmonize its rules.

Article by Ayesha Rascoe and Bernie Woodall; Edited by Lisa Shumaker and Sofina Mirza-Reid; appearing courtesy Reuters.