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. GenPatton

    Price them right out of range, there mr. president. Stupid is as stupid does. What's next a sin tax on trucks?

    February 18, 2014 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  2. Dead Bear

    How dare he do such a thing?!?!?! This man is a monster ready to devour all things holy in our star spangled awesome country!!! First his war on coal and now a war on our nations lifeblood oil???...... I hope you all enjoyed my impression of a brain dead conservative Republican. Tune in tomorrow when I'll do a Tea Party Patriot by crying at the top of my lungs and throwing a temper tantrum like a spoiled brat toddler.

    February 18, 2014 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  3. legumepod

    Good! Long overdue! The planet is our "house"–it's what God gave us–we should 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 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  4. NooYawkah

    Hear that sound? That's the price of everything going up at the same time.

    February 18, 2014 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  5. IAHawks

    How about focusing on the real issues this country is facing. That is more important than fuel economy.

    February 18, 2014 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  6. Nick

    How will he replace the gas tax revenue that will be lost (assuming anyone will buy the vehicles)? I see new taxes somewhere down the road as you can't be both fuel efficient and feed the government machine.

    February 18, 2014 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  7. Jack 63

    "aims to save some 530 million barrels of oil and cut emissions by roughly 270 million metric tons" Hey CNN you mind explaining the change up in units here? Sounds like you're trying to make something sound better than it really is. Just how many barrels of oil does it take to equal 270 million metric tons?

    February 18, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  8. TSB8C

    Obama in 2014 SOTU speach – "I will take steps through executive action in various policy areas".

    Obama as Senator in 2008 at a campaign stop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania – "I taught constitutional law for ten years. I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems we're facing right now has to do with George Bush trying to bring more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and that's what I intend to reverse when I'm president of the United States of America."

    Lying, economy ruining, job destroying waste of a prez.

    February 18, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  9. LarryT

    Meanwhile, I could cut our national oil consumption by 1/3 just by re-engineering the traffic flow. Idling engines waste fuel. It would be expensive, but it would be massively beneficial to the nation in the long run. Oops. No politician is interested in anything beyond the next election. Sorry.

    February 18, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  10. g

    stop exporting americas oil

    February 18, 2014 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  11. carlin123

    Is it really the President's job to fix fuel standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks?

    February 18, 2014 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    I find it ironic how so many conservatives are all upset about a desire to live on a clean planet because the book of Revelations suggests that the preservation of the Earth is God's desire and seems to predit the destruction of those who would foul the Earth.

    Revelations 9
    --------------
    3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

    4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

    February 18, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  13. JJR

    And right along with this new Obama thing, states are now complaining as their gasoline tax money is going down because of the now fuel efficient cars. Politicians have no concept of consequences do they?

    February 18, 2014 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  14. Soakee

    This was to be expected...more Obama socialist poilicy (forcing manufacturers to produce something that the supposed "free market" may or may not want to buy). We can only hope that all CAFE standards will be repealed by a future GOP administration. Let real free market society decide what vehicles they want to buy based on a free market price of fuel.

    February 18, 2014 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  15. Jme

    I wonder how many gallons of fuel he and the family use taking all those vacations on Air Force 1?

    February 18, 2014 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Harold Read wrote:

    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.
    -------------------------
    Unemployment is down at least points since the peak of The Great Recession. Only the companies that are owned by hard line conservatives would have to spend money refitting their shipping fleet because that's what you keep telling yourselves. Everyone else will just continue on as they were, shaking their heads in disbelief at the beliefs of the hard right.

    February 18, 2014 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  17. srcactus

    From the head scientist that brought us the Fiskers car and Solyndra green industries we will now have a green sun to limit sunburn in the summer months and we will continue to let jobs dry up to reduce emissions at rush hour and all by executive order.r.

    February 18, 2014 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  18. no mas

    We are regulating ourselves to death! Instead of picking on America, go after China, India, Brazil, Mexico, you know, the developing countries that are 100 times dirtier than us! These regulations is why we cannot compete on the global market anymore. America is very clean compared to these other countries! LEAVE US ALONE!

    February 18, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  19. wakeup

    maybe if they would let better diesel vehicles in the country – and lower the price of the fuel.. more people would BUY the vehicles. I know I love my VW with 50 mph.. and it not a tiny little bubble like the other cars.

    February 18, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  20. Jon

    jack 63, carbon is measured in metric tons and oil is measure in barrels....there was no change up to the measurements, the measurements were accurate...

    February 18, 2014 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  21. salty dog

    Ah the free market, that's a good one.

    February 18, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  22. The other guy

    Will these new trucks/standards be applied to trucks coming across from Mexico? Because they're hardly compliant with the current emission standards. Oh, right!

    February 18, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  23. Scott in Michigan

    Dumb. As a guy who knows alot about trucking operations, the dictator will kill this industry. I love how every article quotes saving barrels of oil and increasing fuel economy. All may be true, but at what cost? The cost to purchase new trucks is skyrocketing, while the engines will barely last 60% of what they did previously. Saving fuel is great except companies will not be able to afford to replace the equipment and slowly die as profit margins are very thin. This will lead to increased costs to the consumer. Just another bone head move by The King.

    February 18, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  24. Texas Oil Man

    If you look at big rigs the design hasn't changed much in 50 years. The cab over design died but the overall aerodynamics is still bad and anyone watching a semi take off sees that big cloud of black smoke. I'm a big diesel fan but we've got to find a way to cut down on the air pollution and improve aerodynamics. If you dont care about this then go to a city with terrible inversions right now.

    February 18, 2014 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    no mas

    We are regulating ourselves to death! Instead of picking on America, go after China, India, Brazil, Mexico, you know, the developing countries that are 100 times dirtier than us! These regulations is why we cannot compete on the global market anymore.
    -----------------------------–
    Most regulations serve to keep us safe and actually produce jobs. It's not regulations that are making it difficult to compete on the global market. It's the secretive trade deals and fast track legislation to pass them through the Congress that make it harder for U.S. based to compete on a global scale.

    February 18, 2014 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
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