Obama takes next step in fuel efficiency drive
February 18th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
5 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. JMorcan

    We should get all these tractor trailers off the roads. Trains are cheaper and greener for long haul freight.

    February 18, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. If you believe THAT...........

    Obama tales one step forward then 4 steps back. Nothing changes here. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.

    February 18, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    -Max

    "President Barack Obama is set to announce the energy and environmental initiative at a Safeway distribution center in Maryland'

    Will he be taking his gas guzzling jet and SUV to the event?
    *********************
    Probably, since people such as yourself would never get him a jet and SUV that are not. I realize for people that insist on always seeing things thorugh an ideological prism, snarky comments are their only means of expressing their impotent rage when they lose the debate, but this just shows how badly you know you are losing.

    February 18, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Sniffit

    Have no fear on some imagined revenue shortfall...pot taxes will more than make up for it haha. Besides, the federal gov't collects about $25B-$30B per year in the per gallon gas tax. The GOP/Teatrolls can cost us $24B in 16 days shutting down the gov't and doing NOTHING, but you're worried about gas tax revenue falling by what, $5B-%10B?...under a scenario that includes households paying less because they need less gas each year due to higher fuel efficiency?

    February 18, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    JWV4 wrote:

    Perhaps you should take a little time and have a working adult explain to you the lies and damage BO has done to this great country.
    ------------------------–
    What has he actually done? Don't recite numbers to me. Tell me what policies has he enacted, and what damage those policies have actually caused. I ask for policies because we all know that Republicans have maintained a hard line against legislating any part of his agenda since Scott Brown replaced Ted Kennedy.

    February 18, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. wendel

    what a bunch of nonsense spouted from the wackey repos on this site. No matter what this man does to help consumers or this country you wack jobs find some goofey idea . You lost get a grip and try saying or doing something positive.

    February 18, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. mlbex

    @Silence:
    Your corporate overlords will give you your ration of freedom and resources when you submit be their slaves. That and a cute Walmart vest. Now go unload the subsidy and take it to the vault.

    ---------

    Maybeso. I'll see you there. Make sure you have your vest on. If I could escape and get off the grid... nah, too much work. Just make sure that my ration is bigger than yours :=)

    February 18, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  8. Doug

    i work in this industry. Everybody wants better fuel mileage it is the best possible thing that could happen to the bottom line. Just because the President declares his wish doesn't mean engineers can make it at a reasonable cost. This president is becoming delusional and the left wing applauding his unilateral moves had best remember this knife can cut both ways.

    February 18, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Hector Slagg

    Eh,
    The Amish or Mennonites are still using horses and buggies. Maybe they know something we don't. They probably get 100 miles to the bale. Um, sorry salty, that is a fossil fuel!

    February 18, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. JWV4

    RUDY NYC

    I believe both parties are in big oils pocket. It's all about the donations.

    February 18, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Fair is Fair

    Sniffit

    "Sniffit, I'm not talking about net cost per mile. My example is net tax revenue per mile travelled. My example is a simple illustration of how much tax is collected on a 30 mile trip with the control being tax per gallon with the variable being miles per gallon. It's a standard scientific experiment, is it not?"

    Ah, I see what you meant now: More efficiency = less tax revenue. Yeah, so? Even if we adjusted the tax proportionately upwards to account for growing efficiency, it would be a miniscule adjustment...and likely unnecessary because the numbers of cars on the road and drivers keeps increasing. Anyway, $0.194 per gallon becomes $0.204 per gallon and the sky falls? Hardly.
    ------–
    Sniffit, I'm not sure where you joined in the debate on this, but my original statement was that in order for revenue to remain constant, any given % increase in efficiency will need to be met with a corresponding % increase in taxation. You say "miniscule", and that's true, provided that, the increase in efficiency is proportionally miniscule. That's all, nothing else. I've been told that my observation is nothing but "right wing fear mongering". Not true, but it's come to be expected.

    February 18, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. Tommy G

    JWV4
    Look back at 2008 Obama himself and Steven Chu flat out said they were out to make American energy rival that of Euorpes. Their will be no middle class by the time Obama is done.
    -–

    Their aim is for one, very low class. Working hard, succeeding, getting rich, all things to be discouraged and scorned.

    February 18, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. JWV4

    It cost (the taxpayers) $170K per hour for Obama to fly around to all his campaign and vacations. Do as he says, not as he does.

    February 18, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. Fair is Fair

    Sniffit

    Have no fear on some imagined revenue shortfall...pot taxes will more than make up for it haha. Besides, the federal gov't collects about $25B-$30B per year in the per gallon gas tax. The GOP/Teatrolls can cost us $24B in 16 days shutting down the gov't and doing NOTHING, but you're worried about gas tax revenue falling by what, $5B-%10B?...under a scenario that includes households paying less because they need less gas each year due to higher fuel efficiency?
    -------
    No one debates the benefit of efficiency, Sniffit. All that I've tried to point out is that for the net proceeds of taxation to remain constant, the taxation paradigm needs to change. Whether that change to the paradigm is an increase per gallon or a different method of taxtion (e.g. a per-mile model) is irrelevant. That's all.

    February 18, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. just asking

    JMorcan
    We should get all these tractor trailers off the roads. Trains are cheaper and greener for long haul freight.
    -–

    so you expect train tracks to be laid to go everywhere trucks currently go? we already have plenty of train tracks for long haul freight. is there a point to your statement?

    February 18, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    JWV4 replied:

    Perhaps you should take a little time and have a working adult explain to you the lies and damage BO has done to this great country.

    "What has he actually done? Don't recite numbers to me. Tell me what policies has he enacted, and what damage those policies have actually caused. I ask for policies because we all know that Republicans have maintained a hard line against legislating any part of his agenda since Scott Brown replaced Ted Kennedy."

    I believe both parties are in big oils pocket. It's all about the donations.
    -------------------------
    So the real message finally makes its' debut. Both major parties take donations from big oil, which means they are bad. Does that opinion include the Tea Party? I ask because big, private money is in their pockets.

    February 18, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. JWV4

    RUDY NYC

    As a Independent I thank the Reps for once in trying to stop Obama's war on the middle class. I will keep it up to date for you. Look at what he is doing trying to inact change in the Obamacare law. That IS in fact unconstitutional.

    February 18, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. Sniffit

    "I've been told that my observation is nothing but "right wing fear mongering". Not true, but it's come to be expected."

    It sort of is though. You haven't provided any argument as to why that's a bad thing...people paying less in taxes because they get to purchase less gas. You've essentially just said and implied "something something is bad...dun dun DUUUUUUUN!!!!!" without any argument to explain why it's bad.

    February 18, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. A Kickin Donkey

    There is a correlation between every increase in fuel economy that the President 's leadership has [and will ] deliver and the reduction of American blood spilled from American soldiers sent to fight in Middle Eastern related Petro-Wars. ALL those Republican men who vote Republican owe Mr. Obama a thank you for saving some of their sons and daughters from future DEATH.
    Now it's time for young Republicans to vote Democratic to reward the party for keeping their brothers, sisters, husbands and wives alive. It's the moral thing to do.

    February 18, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    No one debates the benefit of efficiency, Sniffit. All that I've tried to point out is that for the net proceeds of taxation to remain constant, the taxation paradigm needs to change. Whether that change to the paradigm is an increase per gallon or a different method of taxtion (e.g. a per-mile model) is irrelevant. That's all.
    --------------------------–
    No, your point was fear mongering. Increasing efficiency will mean higher taxes was the real point you were trying to make.

    February 18, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. Sniffit

    "No one debates the benefit of efficiency, Sniffit. All that I've tried to point out is that for the net proceeds of taxation to remain constant, the taxation paradigm needs to change. Whether that change to the paradigm is an increase per gallon or a different method of taxtion (e.g. a per-mile model) is irrelevant. That's all."

    Fair enough. And when the need arises, I'm sure we'll all be treated to a giant circus over it from the GOP/Teatrolls, who will see gutting gas tax revenue as yet another means of "starving the beast."

    February 18, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. rob

    The best way to reduction of carbon from trucks and buses is natural gas burning engines. Natural gas is now abundant, cheap and emits much less CO 2 than gasoline or diesel.

    February 18, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Chris-E...al

    Obama just said on cnn that he was going to save us 8000 bucks a year on gas ..! His lips are moveing again get out your pocketbooks !

    February 18, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. Bill from GA

    Rudy NYC "Oil companies pay royalties based upon how much product that they extract."

    Generally, that's true, but in the Gulf of Mexico, much of the oil extracted is royalty-free, due to loophole left from days when oil was cheap and Congress was cheaper.

    February 18, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. JWV4

    I will leave the Obama supporters with one final question.

    How does it feel knowing that you've sold out the next generation?

    February 18, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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