Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy) | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in politics

Obama's boast on gas mileage gains is dead wrong

The statement

"We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas."

President Barack Obama, Tuesday in the State of the Union address

The ruling

President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address that the country's progress toward energy independence can be measured in miles per gallon.

"Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy. After years of talking about it, we're finally poised to control our own energy future," he said. "We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar, with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it."

A lot of energy claims are packed in that statement. Here, we'll examine whether we've "doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas."

We reached out to the White House asking for backup to this claim but did not receive any. But back in 2011, the EPA announced a plan, in partnership with a dozen automakers, to increase average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks. (That figure represents a combined city/highway rating as tested in a lab. In real-world driving, the EPA estimates drivers would average closer to 43 mpg.)

Is that for cars coming off the assembly line now? Hardly. The 54.5 mpg benchmark is the goal for model year 2025 vehicles.

Fuel efficiency is gradually increasing on the way to the 2025 goal. When he took office in 2009, federal standards called for an average rating of 27.5 mpg. For 2013 vehicles, the standard is 30.5 mpg. In 2016, it rises to 34.1.

So comparing fuel efficiency in 2009 and now, there's an increase of 11 percent — not nearly double.

Obama said the United States has "doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas," which clearly sounds as though cars on the road today are running at twice their earlier fuel efficiency. But he was comparing a real number with a projected one, a standard for vehicles manufactured more than a decade from now.

The statement was misleading and more importantly untrue. We rate it False.

Read more rulings at

Obama's boast on gas mileage gains is dead wrong 02/14/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 11:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs


    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  2. St. Pete sewage crisis ends with no charges, $326 million bill


    ST. PETERSBURG — The city has put the legal fallout from the sewage crisis behind it.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system in September 2016. The city recently learned that no employees will face charges as a result of that crisis. The St. Petersburg City Council also agreed to spend $326 million fixing its sewer system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. Epilogue: Tony Scaglione served Ybor delicacies and laughs


    Tony Scaglione's childhood dream was to own his family's restaurant.

    Tony Scaglione - the longtime owner of Tony's Ybor Restaurant - has died.  He was 87. Credit: Larry Scaglione
  4. What you need to know for Friday, July 21


    href=""> Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during minicamp this summer. He said the Bucs could be "a bad--- football team." [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Final sign positions should cut danger where trail crosses interstate ramp


    I am concerned with the yield signs I saw recently installed for the new bike and pedestrian trail along either side of Roosevelt Boulevard between Carillon Parkway/28th Street and Interstate 275. These yield signs seem to be pointing to the drivers, one side as they exit the interstate northbound, the other as they …