Obama takes next step in fuel efficiency drive
February 18th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
7 months ago

Obama takes next step in fuel efficiency drive

Updated 2:10 p.m. ET, 2/18/2014

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama took the next step on Tuesday in his administration's effort to cut emissions and reduce oil use through better fuel economy on the nation's highways.

Speaking at a Safeway distribution center in Maryland, Obama instructed environmental and transportation agencies to get to work on the next round of gas mileage requirements for big trucks.

"Five years ago, we set out to break our dependence on foreign oil," Obama said. "Today, America is closer to energy independence and we have been in decades.

"For the first time in nearly 20 years, America produces more oil here at home than we buy from other countries. Our levels of dangerous carbon pollution, that contributes to climate change, have actually gone down even as our production has gone up," he said.

Obama's plan builds on a 2011 regulation that set the first-ever fuel standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks for model years 2014-18. It aims to save some 530 million barrels of oil and cut emissions by roughly 270 million metric tons.

Now, the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency - as planned - must develop the next phase of targets for those vehicles for post-2018 model years.

Obama wants them in place by March 2015.

"What we were clear about what was, if you set a rule, a clear goal, we would give our companies the certainty that they needed to innovate and out-build the rest of the world," he said. "They could figure out if they had a goal that they were trying to reach, and thanks to their ingenuity and our work, we're going to meet that goal."

The effort does not require congressional approval.

Obama has facilitated aggressive increases in auto and truck fuel efficiency since taking office. Industry in most cases has responded with cleaner-burning engines, lighter and more aerodynamic designs and models that appeal to consumers hungry for fuel savings.

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, praised the latest announcement.

"Strong heavy truck efficiency standards will not only cut carbon pollution that fuels climate change, but also save consumers money every time they go to a store and save truckers money at the pump," Beinecke said.

Trucking industry leaders supported the latest proposal as well.

Congressional Republicans called the announcement old news, and urged Obama to join them in working on legislation that would create jobs.

"Surely in the past 20 days, the President could have found time to pick up his pen and respond to Congress," said Rory Cooper, communications director for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. "It's abundantly clear that President Obama is not interested in working with Congress to solve the problems facing working middle class families."

In his State of the Union address, Obama promised that 2014 would be a "Year of Action" and he would take steps through executive action in various policy areas that do not need congressional backing.

In Maryland, he touted actions he's taken since that speech in January, including raising the minimum wage for federal contractors, ordering a review of job training programs and creating a new way for low-wage workers to save for retirement.

Heavy-duty vehicles, including trucks, buses and vans, rank behind cars in the production of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, according to the Transportation Department.

Obama chose to make the latest announcement at Safeway because the company "has been a leader in improving trucking efficiency," a White House official said, adding that it has invested in "cleaner" technologies, improved aerodynamics, more efficient tires and larger capacity trailers.

soundoff (343 Responses)
  1. Harold Read

    What ever happened to the "laser-like focus on unemployment and the economy"?
    So a company would have to spend money on refitting their shipping fleet instead of keeping my business afloat after getting hit by Obamacare employer fines.
    Time to:
    – Cut employee hours to part time
    – Outsource out of the country
    – Hit the consumer with higher prices so they have to hit their customers with higher prices and consumers can afford to by less
    – Stop company growth and employment due to increased operational costs

    February 18, 2014 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  2. Shefter Laurent

    It's O.K Mr. President!
    Pursue your goal. The people is backing you!
    Wise people applaud.

    February 18, 2014 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  3. Mike C

    It basically sounds like the public will be paying more for gasoline once again.

    February 18, 2014 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  4. Doug

    Will his mandate cover China and India???? Don't think so. He's just one mandate-happy guy.

    February 18, 2014 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  5. SamSkwirl

    So how will they raise the fuel economy of trucks? Will they make hybred trucks?? More aerodynamic trucks?? Lighter materials?? The best way to cut down on transportation costs of goods is to use rail to ship. 1 Train can pull so many cars for little fuel.

    February 18, 2014 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  6. Mike

    The caption should be Obama takes the next step to destroy America!

    February 18, 2014 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  7. salty dog

    I don't know what the answer is, but this isn't it, better than nothing: but we need to ditch the fossil fuel craze. There are alternatives, but big oil spends soooo much money fighting it, it goes nowhere. When are we to wake up, sooner or later somethings gotta give, why wait for crisis. Another shining example of why we must rid politics of outside money, they literally write our legislation for their industries, not good. This is beyond the fat mouse guarding the cheese, we need to take this more seriously.

    February 18, 2014 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  8. Minnie Mouse

    What ranks behind in everything is cars. They are made so cheap compared to a trucks and or Suv's. Cars can't with stand hardly any impact before they are totaled out or someone is killed. The only thing we should be selling are 4-wheel drive vehicles, all wheel drive vehicle's, electric vehicle's and these all need to be fuel efficient, more affordable, durable and available to everyone. We would all have more money in our pockets and come winter times, at least people would be able to get around better with more lives saved in cars with people driving more durable cars.

    February 18, 2014 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  9. Stuffitu

    Is it possible for this idiot to pay attention to things that are really problems like the prices of fuel food and the fact that his administration has caused these problems. He got a worthless, job killing, system destroying health care insurance reform throu, he got to reward all of the dopers welfare frauds and corrupt unions all that stimulus money to reward them for stealing the election for him. He got his gay marriage, he has demeaned those who actually work and pay taxes, now can he actually try to do something to help hard working Americans who actually work, pay taxes and take personal responsibility for their lives?

    February 18, 2014 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    You realize, that will likely result in increased costs to trucking companies, which will result in higher transportation costs, for EVERYTHING the consumer buys? You already saw that, happen when Obama allowed fuel to rise in cost. Everything rose in price, immediately.

    When are people going to get the message? This President, is TRYING to do damage. It is his GOAL!

    February 18, 2014 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  11. hkirwin

    .....and the costs gets passed on to the taxpayer. Obama's war on coal is estimated to increase the cost of electricity by over 60%. The "poor" will get an electric subsidy and it will be paid for by..............................................

    February 18, 2014 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  12. Willllburrrr

    It is in these company's better interests to do as Safeway has done in investing in cleaner technologies, improved aerodynamics, more efficient tires and larger capacity trailers for their fleet. I applaud them and President Obama for their efforts. And hopefully, the oil company subsidies will FINALLY end. Long overdue.

    February 18, 2014 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  13. Swimmer

    More excellent work by Obama and his team.
    These folks address real problems. 4 more years?!

    February 18, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  14. chut26

    lets see government efficiency first.

    February 18, 2014 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  15. Gurgyl

    Make needed laws.

    February 18, 2014 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  16. Bill Davis

    Best deal, put them all on unemployment,

    February 18, 2014 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  17. hahdhdga

    Go hug your gas-hogs while you still own them, I for one would not miss the black smoke poring out of a diesel SUV – Only people who can show a need should be allowed to own a truck – if its just for pleasure then ATV, Boats and are not a good enough reason. Hire a professional with a license to carry them. Good luck American conservatives the age of Aquarius is here and the children of light are running the show now.

    February 18, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  18. PoorDriver

    But oil companies make same money and profit always. We fill less gas for higher price

    February 18, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  19. ProudDem

    Let the cries of Dictator begin from the Tea Party....

    February 18, 2014 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  20. Anonymous

    interesting how Obama always goes after changes that will not affect him.

    February 18, 2014 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  21. DC Johnny

    Great idea. Let's tinker with the cost-efficiency of the automobile industry at a time where the economy is on the brink of faltering entirely. I can only imagine that this will have a positive effect on the dismal job market.

    I mean, I only have degrees in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics from an Ivy League school... it's not like I'm a community organizer with 2 years of Senate experience, so what do I know?

    February 18, 2014 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  22. jimatmad

    This is not going to be easy. Trucking companies already put a premium on fuel savings, so all of the low hanging fruit has long since been plucked.
    Hybrid technology has multiple drawbacks. It's very expensive. It helps local/ city delivery trucks, but doesn't benefit long-haul drivers a whole lot. And it is heavy, a major problem for truckers depending on the weight they can haul rather than cubing out.
    Not sure where alternate fuel technologies fit in, but, again, they are very expensive at this point.
    Other, untried technologies will bring their own problems including reliability/ down time, which is huge.
    Can it be done? Yeah, I suppose. It will be interesting to see how this plays out..

    February 18, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  23. Yoshi

    Great, these are the types of influences government can make to help spur innovation... nothing new here but it is progress and quite frankly it's about time.

    February 18, 2014 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  24. ted

    Let's do whatever it takes to make cars and trucks more expensive.

    February 18, 2014 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  25. legumepod

    Good! Long time overdue! I have a truck myself but its older. Since I like it I plan on keeping it/restoring it etc. People crying foul over the idea on living in a clean planet will just have to adapt. The planet is our "house"- it's what God gave us- why not take care of it? Unless people *like* living in filth...then again...I've seen the state of some peoples houses O.o

    February 18, 2014 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
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