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

    Is that 530 million barrels a year, or over some longer period of time? The article is unclear. 530 million barrels is about 25 days worth of oil. If in a year, that is a respectable 7% or so. If over a longer period, it isn't a very big saving....

    February 18, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    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.
    -----------------------
    I see. Most people who are independent are not moderates. They're iusually ndependent because their views are too extreme for either major party. Please, do keep me up to date on the latest delusions. Some forces in this country have been trying to delay eanctment of the ACA, if not outright repeal it. So, when the President delays part of it, those same forces go crazy, instead of applauding the president for doing what they wanted just a few short months ago.

    February 18, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. Al

    What ever the efficiency for the vehicle he's taken around in should be as good enough for the regular person that works and pays taxes.

    February 18, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "Look at what he is doing trying to inact change in the Obamacare law. That IS in fact unconstitutional."

    Heckler v. Chaney and other cases, not to mention the Administrative Procedures Act, would tend to disagree with you. Please do your homework. Faux and the GOP/Teatrolls are quite flagrantly lying to you

    February 18, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    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?
    *******************
    Was laying tracks down the middle of the Interstate Highway System suggested anywhere in that post. The point was that moving freight via train is more efficient, but I'm sure you will find some BS reason for opposing that, like you oppose everything.

    February 18, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  6. Fair is Fair

    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.
    -------–
    Again, my comment was not intended to say it was a bad thing, but it was factual... and met with ridicule and scorn. I suppose that's fine, as long as the "ridiculer" and "scorner" is exposed; that is, someone who cannot debate on merit.

    February 18, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. jennie

    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.
    -–

    Yawwwwnnnn... Please not the tired old blood for oil baloney the anti-war left spews. We have a leftist UN ambassador that thinks we should go to war for humanitarian reasons. Do yOU support our kids dying for that?

    February 18, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. just asking

    The Real Tom Paine
    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?
    *******************
    Was laying tracks down the middle of the Interstate Highway System suggested anywhere in that post. The point was that moving freight via train is more efficient, but I'm sure you will find some BS reason for opposing that, like you oppose everything.
    --

    well, thanks for this very enlightening fact that we have all known for a few hundred years now. you lefties are just so cutting edge and up to date with ideas!

    February 18, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. Jim

    So the President takes his big gas guzzling plane, and is entourage of gas guzzling vehicle to talk about energy efficiency , why couldn't he just make that announcement from the white House? and let the free markets dictate what people want, so now we are making vehicles that are less safe to get to fuel standards

    February 18, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. Fair is Fair

    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.
    ---------
    In order for net tax revenue to remain constant, IT HAS TO MEAN A HIGHER TAX RATE. You're making yourself look foolish, Rudy.

    February 18, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. GreenGuy

    The private sector is already testing the next gen trucks.
    No oil, coolants or exhaust after treatment.
    Youtube – Walmart Wave truck.

    February 18, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. Dave

    And what will this cost consumers? Do we really want our gas prices going up? Can we afford to pay even higher prices for food? Give us a break! Let the economy get healthy before you dump on us! Why not create some jobs instead of more rules that we have to apy for!

    February 18, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    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.
    -------–
    I see. Most people who are independent are not moderates. They're iusually ndependent because their views are too extreme for either major party.
    ---------–
    This is, without doubt, the most ridiculous statement I've ever read. You never cease to amaze.

    February 18, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. Duane Allen

    Finally! Someone with a brain is taking the lead in improving fuel efficiency in some of the biggest guzzlers and polluters on US roads today. Is anyone with even half a brain not in whole-hearted support? Only a clueless moron or a stool pigeon for the petroleum industry would assail the plan. Automobile manufacturers have seen windfall sales due to consumer demand for more fuel efficient vehicles – a look at brand/model sell through demonstrates sales of those models are sky rocketing. Sales of large vehicles, trucks, buses, etc will follow, as businesses chose to reduce fuel costs to improve their profitability.

    February 18, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. lamalib

    If Obama would just come out for mandating sails on trucks it would also boost the mileage. It would also be a great jobs program as all of the roads would have to be cleared of tree branches and all bridges raised another 50 feet. A new industry of truck sails would be born. Think of the millions of them that could be sold around the world. I'm sure I could get a $500 million grant to get this idea off the ground. Gotta go fill out the government grant forms.

    February 18, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Again, my comment was not intended to say it was a bad thing, but it was factual... and met with ridicule and scorn. I suppose that's fine, as long as the "ridiculer" and "scorner" is exposed; that is, someone who cannot debate on merit.
    -------------------------
    Sorry, your opinions are not factual, not in the least. Maybe ideological fear mongering is so instinctive for you that you don't realize you're doing. "Obama's ideas will lead to a need to raise taxes in the future to sustain his big government."

    Uh, two plus two equals four, which means that we will have higher taxes in a few years. See? I can do it, too.

    February 18, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. S.B. Stein

    We need more fuel efficient vehicles because they reduce the amount of fuel we need to buy. The roads need to match that in the sense that they need to be maintained properly. This goes for bridges and tunnels as well that carry trucks, cars and trains.

    Trucks should be used for shorter distances while trains can carry stuff across the country more efficiently with a better track system.

    February 18, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  18. Nobody

    Wow!!! Some of you are just never going to wise up, anything that increases fuel efficiency is a good thing. It means less of our money is going to the middle east, money that will undoubtedly be used against the USA.

    February 18, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  19. just asking

    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 !
    -–

    awesome! i can now use that to pay for my higher healthcare costs that were supposed to be $2,500 a year lower and not thousands higher. my only question is what will i use to pay the thousands more in higher fuel costs when all of these mythical savings turn into higher prices, just like they did with obamacare.

    it sure looks like obama is bucking to be the liar of the year for two years in a row.

    February 18, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  20. salty dog

    What about the Microsoft executive who spends 300, 000 filling up his 550 foot yacht?

    February 18, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    -JWV4

    I will leave the Obama supporters with one final question.

    How does it feel knowing that you've sold out the next generation?
    **********************
    As a result of the ACA, my son, who was tagged as having a pre-existing condition, can purcahse insurance and not be denied. Anyone who has been in my position of seeing your child get denied insurance coverage would never view that as selling out the next generation. You would have cheerfully condemned him and millions like him to pay for the rest of his life, solely because of your own selfishness. Don't confuse your needs with what is good for the country. For my son, I support him, and my son knows who are his political friends and who will never lift a finger to help middle class families ( hint, the GOP won't help, and neither will the fringe Third parties).

    February 18, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. just asking

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

    so businesses are already doing what obama wants to do. why does government need to get involved and gum up the works? can any of you looney lefties please answer this very simple question? obama just looks like he wants to stick government nose into something that is already happening on its own. why?

    February 18, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Again, my comment was not intended to say it was a bad thing, but it was factual... and met with ridicule and scorn. I suppose that's fine, as long as the "ridiculer" and "scorner" is exposed; that is, someone who cannot debate on merit.
    ---------
    Sorry, your opinions are not factual, not in the least. Maybe ideological fear mongering is so instinctive for you that you don't realize you're doing. "Obama's ideas will lead to a need to raise taxes in the future to sustain his big government."

    Uh, two plus two equals four, which means that we will have higher taxes in a few years. See? I can do it, too.
    --------
    One more time. Fuel tax is a consumption tax. The less that's consumed, the less tax collected. An decrease in the amount consumed (READ – better efficiency) results in a decrease in tax collected. In order for the amount collected to remain constant, a corresponding increase in taxation rate must occur. You're arguing against mathematics – an arguement you lose every time.

    February 18, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. tom l

    @Sniffit
    "So your argument, oh great libertarian free market true-believer, is that we should pay blood money to an industry that reported climbing record profits "
    ======

    Not sure why you would deliberately not point out the part of my comment where I said "I am all for getting rid of subsidies but you...." but what else is new when you have a thin argument that doesn't pass the test. Your "record profits" and anything/everything else you say is irrelevant. There are shareholders that will not allow the lack of subsidies to make it ok that they make less profits. Sorry, that's reality. Not sure why all of the liberals on here want to ignore facts but that is also nothing new. Bottom line, get rid of subsidies and the prices will go up. They have to. There is no way around it.

    The liberals on here are chastising people like me and Fair because we are giving them honest ramifications for these actions and they don't like the message so they shoot the messenger and dodge/deflect reality and go off on some tangent about "fear mongering".

    Do you honestly believe that gas prices will remain the same and there will be no adjustment without the subsidies?? You are far too smart not to recognize that. Oh, and guess who that will hurt the most? The poor who you pretend to say you care soooo much about. Your ideology and class warfare (fair share blah blah blah) are harming the ones you say you are trying to help.

    February 18, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    -just asking

    The Real Tom Paine
    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?
    *******************
    Was laying tracks down the middle of the Interstate Highway System suggested anywhere in that post. The point was that moving freight via train is more efficient, but I'm sure you will find some BS reason for opposing that, like you oppose everything.

    well, thanks for this very enlightening fact that we have all known for a few hundred years now. you lefties are just so cutting edge and up to date with ideas!
    ******************
    Its not hard, considering how little you offer up, aside from new ways of mocking and offending others who actually want to do something with their lives. Of course I hate to win the battle of ideas by default, but when your lot still have people who think humans and dinosaurs walked the Earth together, well, you frankly don't offer much in the way of wit or ideas. Keep going, delta-minus.

    February 18, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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