Natural gas groups last week touted the Obama administration’s new standards that would require automakers to increase the average fuel efficiency of new cars and light-duty trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025, nearly double that of cars currently on the road.

The new standards will promote the sale of natural gas vehicles (NGV) in the United States, they said. “The administration has recognized that natural gas vehicles provide pollution reduction in an efficient and cost-effective way. The final rule…begins to level the playing field between natural gas vehicles and other alternatively fueled vehicles,” said Tom Amontree, executive vice president of America’s Natural Gas Alliance.

“For years, American car manufacturers have been building and selling [NGV] in other countries in far greater numbers than in the U.S. market. This decision by the Obama administration will help those companies bring those vehicles and associated jobs to the United States,” said American Gas Association CEO Dave McCurdy.

“By broadening the application of the manufacturer’s incentives for vehicles that run on alternative fuels to include clean natural gas, the Obama administration has taken a clear step towards reducing our dependence on foreign oil and improving our environment,” he said.

The new standards are expected to save consumers more than $1.7 trillion on gasoline over the lifetime of a 2025 vehicle, reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion bbl and cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025, the Obama administration said.

The final standards have the support of 13 major automobile manufacturers, which build 90% of the cars sold in the United States. Automakers currently are working to achieve a 35.5 mpg average by 2016.

“The [new] standards, together with those previously adopted for model years 2012 to 2016, mean an 80% increase in fuel economy for the average model year 2025 from the 2011 CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) requirement of 27.6 mpg,” said the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

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