July 19, 2011 / 2:06 PM / 7 years ago

UAW, other unions support tougher fuel standards

DETROIT (Reuters) - A coalition of eight unions and environmental groups, including the United Auto Workers, asked President Barack Obama to push for higher fuel-economy standards for light-duty vehicles.

The 10/110 freeway interchange is seen in Los Angeles, July 16, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

The BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership between labor unions and environmental organizations, said in a letter to Obama that it strongly supports his efforts to create new fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for light-duty vehicles sold in model years 2017-2025.

“We encourage you to propose standards that maximize oil savings and reductions of GHG pollution, strengthen the U.S. auto industry, increase the deployment of advanced technology, protect U.S. automotive jobs, and create more opportunity for American workers,” the coalition wrote.

Higher gas prices and a still-shaky economic recovery — paired with competition from foreign automakers — have left U.S. companies and trade groups looking for new ways to support their members.

The United States sends about $1 billion per day to foreign countries to pay for oil, according to the letter. Higher fuel economy standards could be a relief to consumers and also create jobs for workers to redesign vehicles and retool factories, the letter said.

The changes could also pinch automakers’ margins. The UAW, which is concerned about protecting union jobs, hosted executives from the big U.S. automakers last week to discuss future standards.

The U.S. government has been meeting regularly to consider options for new corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards for 2017 through 2025. Regulators are considering lifting CAFE standards to 56.2 miles per gallon for the 2017 to 2025 time period, a source told Reuters. The Obama administration has publicly said it is targeting a range between 47 mpg and 62 mpg.

Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman and Clare Baldwin, editing by Matthew Lewis

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