Diana Furchtgott-Roth–- Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The views expressed are her own. –

Good news for Americans with large families or who need to transport substantial amounts of gear: President Obama’s new vehicle emissions standards are not as tough as they seem. But this is bad news for environmentalists, who want to lower the use of gasoline.

When Obama, using authority granted to the president in the 2007 Energy Act, announced earlier this month that automakers will be required to achieve a higher fleet average, 35 miles a gallon, by 2016—four years earlier than Congress had mandated—Americans might have been forgiven for thinking that in 2016 the window stickers on the new cars would reflect this new standard.

Not so.  Window stickers describe only the calculated gasoline efficiency of the model they are pasted on.  Moreover, even if miles per gallon (MPG) were averaged for all models, the result would fall below the new standards Obama announced for 2016.

What he promulgated was a higher “fleet average” for each automaker as calculated by the Department of Transportation, using a kind of vehicular treadmill to test cars’ fuel efficiency.