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Praise from some in ethanol industry for increasing fuel efficiency

President Barack Obama's announced Tuesday that automakers, environmentalists and federal regulators have agreed on a plan to boost the fuel efficiency of new cars and truck to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

The announcement has nothing to do directly with ethanol, but at least one group hailed it for the common goal of cutting U.S. dependence on imports of petroleum.

Obama said the new corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) standard would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil between 2012 and 2016.

"Just to give you a sense of magnitude, that's more oil than we imported last year from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, and Nigeria combined," Obama said when he announced the new standard at the White House.

Obama said the nation's oil-dependence has many costs, including as much as 20% of the U.S. trade deficit. See the full remarks).

A goal of greater fuel efficiency was welcomed by Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, in Washington.

"President Obama has rightly recognized that improving vehicle fuel economy is an important tool in reducing America's reliance on foreign oil," Dinneen said in a statement put out by the RFA. "Together with the increasing use of renewable fuels like ethanol, these technologies represent the most immediate and effective solution available to help meet our energy and environmental challenges."

When asked later, RFA spokesman Matt Hartwig said today's announcement has no effect on efforts to increase ethanol blends from 10% to 15%, or the energy law that requires 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel use by 2022. Nor does it affect how many flex-fuel vehicles that burn 85% ethanol will be made.

"This is just an example of how policies work together to achieve our goals...in this case reducing oil imports," Hartwig said an an e-mail message to Agriculture Online.

President Barack Obama's announced Tuesday that automakers, environmentalists and federal regulators have agreed on a plan to boost the fuel efficiency of new cars and truck to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

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