- President Obama has directed federal agencies to set tighter fuel-efficiency and emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by March 2016.
- The new standards are the second phase of a truck-efficiency program, begun in 2011, that applies to vehicles built from 2014-'18.
- The move will cut dependence on foreign oil, keep more money in the hands of consumers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Obama administration.
WASHINGTON — President Obama continued his mission of cutting fuel consumption in the U.S. on Tuesday, announcing that his administration will issue tougher fuel-efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by March 2016.
"Today, the president laid out additional details for his plan to improve the fuel efficiency of American trucks — bolstering energy security, cutting carbon pollution and spurring manufacturing innovation," the White House said in a statement.
Improvements in American trucks to boost fuel economy could have a trickle-down effect on all vehicles, experts say. The move also will cut dependence on foreign oil, keep more money in the hands of consumers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Obama administration.
According to the White House directive, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) will begin working on this next phase of truck standards immediately. The agencies are expected to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking — a document that gives public notice of a change in policy and invites informed comment on it — by March 2015.
The White House said that heavy vehicles represent a major opportunity to cut oil use and carbon pollution. Although they made up just 4 percent of registered vehicles in the U.S. in 2010, they accounted for 25 percent of fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.
In 2011, the Obama Administration established the first fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy trucks. Under those standards, such vehicles built from 2014-'18 are projected to reduce oil consumption by 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons over the life of the program. In addition, said the White House, American businesses operating these vehicles are expected to save approximately $50 billion in fuel costs during the same time period.
"Five years ago, we set out to break our dependence on foreign oil," the President said in his announcement. "And today, America is closer to energy independence than we've been in decades. For the first time in nearly 20 years, America produces more oil here at home than we buy from other countries."
In developing tighter standards for heavy vehicles, the President instructed government agencies to continue working with the private sector, as they have through the National Clean Fleets Partnership, a coalition of 23 major companies that operate more than 1 million commercial vehicles nationwide. Under this partnership, such corporations as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Staples and UPS have significantly reduced their fuel consumption by incorporating alternative fuels, electric vehicles and fuel-saving measures.
Regarding the new standards, the President said: "The goal we're setting is ambitious, but these are areas where ambition has worked out really well for us so far."
Edmunds says: The march toward more fuel-efficient vehicles continues.