What Would You Do With an Extra $4,400 in Your Wallet?

Imagine if a new car could give you $4,400 cash back. That's essentially what President Obama's fuel efficiency standards will do for American drivers, saving a net total of $4,400 dollars over the lifetime of a new vehicle. In addition to spurring innovation and job growth in Detroit and elsewhere, the new standards will free up money for the things people once gave up to pay for gas--tuition, new clothes, a vacation--boosting local economies instead of padding the profits of Big Oil. According to a recent report by the Blue Green Alliance, the standards will create about 570,000 jobs throughout the United States, not only in clean car manufacturing but in retail and personal services as well, as people loosen up their proverbial belts and spend more freely.

A large part of the projected job growth will be in the auto industry, with about 50,000 manufacturing jobs created by 2030. There are already more than 150,000 people in 300 companies who are designing and building components to make cars cleaner and more fuel efficient. These opportunities will increase under the new standards, as automakers see certainty in the market and invest further in developing fuel efficient cars. Jobs in the auto industry are already on the rise, to the tune of 219,000 jobs in auto manufacturing and sales since 2009.

Innovation is driving this job growth, and, as we've seen in the past, environmental standards are driving innovation. Acid rain safeguards spurred the development of the power plant scrubber, now a $65 billion global market. Banning ozone-destroying CFCs led to the creation of newer, better, refrigerants. The auto industry is totally on board with the new standards, which the president is expected to finalize later this summer--in fact, they're expected to create $2.44 billion in profits for Detroit by 2020.

Fuel efficiency standards will also help consumers save money at the pump, freeing up cash for more discretionary spending--another critical engine for economic growth. The average American spent nearly nine percent of his income on gasoline in 2011. People across the country cut expenses during the last gas price spike, when prices topped $4 a gallon, holding back on buying everything from new clothes to meals or even medication, just in order to have enough money for gas.

When families cut back on normal household spending to pay for gasoline, the economy suffers, yet the Big Oil monopoly still makes its profits. The new fuel efficiency standards will put money back into consumer's pockets and drive job growth here at home--and at the same time, bring us better cars, cleaner air, and a healthier climate.