Obama takes next step in fuel efficiency drive
February 18th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
8 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. just asking

    ok, so the cost of fuel is already very high and everybody is already trying to figure out how to make more efficient vehicles. why does the government need to stick its nose into this at all? do they think truckers and companies enjoy paying more for fuel??? do they think they go out and say, give me the most expensive vehicle to operate when they go out to buy new trucks? of course not. this is all just more unnecessary government intrusion and interference in the market. it is all about control, control of everything in our lives.

    February 18, 2014 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    Followed up, no doubt, with a per-mile taxation model as opposed to the current per-gallon taxation model.
    **************************************
    Fair, be serious: what real evidence do you have that that would even be considered? You're one of the more level-headed people in here, so why are you doing that?

    February 18, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  3. Matt

    @Bill.The US goes through 19.18 million barrels of distillates a day which is about 200 million gallons of diesel a day. If we improve the efficiency by 10% that saves ~20 million gallons a day. At $4/gallon that is $80M less per day spent to move stuff around.

    February 18, 2014 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    -The Fact of the Matter

    @Dead Bear "I hope you all enjoyed my impression of a brain dead conservative Republican."

    Spot on re: brain dead but you're the victim. Obamacare to your rescue. You should be able to relate to that.
    ******************************
    And with that thoughtful epistle, you've proved his point rather handily. Stay on topic, if you can.

    February 18, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. it must be said

    You know, there is one nice thing about these Obama Executive actions. They can disappear just as fast as Obama makes them appear. When a Republican takes office in 2016, all of this far left Executive Order BS is GONE on day one. Sanity and reality will be restored.

    February 18, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  6. Jesse

    Want to cut CO2 emissions in half, tell all politicans to stop talking.

    February 18, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  7. The Real Tom Paine

    -just asking

    ok, so the cost of fuel is already very high and everybody is already trying to figure out how to make more efficient vehicles. why does the government need to stick its nose into this at all? do they think truckers and companies enjoy paying more for fuel??? do they think they go out and say, give me the most expensive vehicle to operate when they go out to buy new trucks? of course not. this is all just more unnecessary government intrusion and interference in the market. it is all about control, control of everything in our lives.
    **************************************
    It must be wonderful to not be burdened by actually having to read the article and examine the facts before commenting. I've got news for you: none of us, not you, me, or anyone else on here, is being controlled to the degree you seem to think we are, but what is controlling you is the ideology that never allows you to objectively examine an issue on its merits. You already have your conclusion worked out, and you labor to go backwards in search of a question: frankly, you don't work all that hard at finding the questions, either.

    February 18, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. ascpgh

    Start with the government equipment!

    Fuel costs are second only to the capital equipment out here in the private world, a message heard every year as budgets are reviewed and anticipated (no baseline budgeting allowed here in the reality).

    After the GSA fleet, I think the next wave should be the focus on state and local equipment. No government fleet feels the reality of linear math like privately owned heavy equipment. Freedom to spend money that doesn't exist is a government attribute, supported by the elected class.

    Obama will, without a doubt, be granting exemptions to all the government ilk, federal to municipal. The cloud-belching antique engined, 6 MPG yellow school busses will continue to block traffic, pollute the air and consume diesel fuel at ridiculous rates.

    February 18, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  9. ELMO

    Always picking on the trucks. That's why I've kept my 2002 Ford F250 super duty with the 7.5 . I'm the envy of all the ranchers, they wish they hadn't gotten rid of theirs. I am personally responsible for melting at least a half inch of ice off the north pole but I can pull your house off its foundation with my monster truck.

    February 18, 2014 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  10. Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    Followed up, no doubt, with a per-mile taxation model as opposed to the current per-gallon taxation model.
    **************************************
    Fair, be serious: what real evidence do you have that that would even be considered? You're one of the more level-headed people in here, so why are you doing that?
    -------–
    How else will the department of transportation deal with a 20% reduction in revenue, Tom?

    February 18, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    -it must be said

    You know, there is one nice thing about these Obama Executive actions. They can disappear just as fast as Obama makes them appear. When a Republican takes office in 2016, all of this far left Executive Order BS is GONE on day one. Sanity and reality will be restored.
    ************************
    Which Republican would that be? The ones that are struggling to get the Creationist vote, or the Xenophobes who think the president is not a citizen. Reality and sanity are not very high on the GOPs radar, unless its the version their psychotic base eats up every day.

    February 18, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  12. just asking

    Matt
    @Bill.The US goes through 19.18 million barrels of distillates a day which is about 200 million gallons of diesel a day. If we improve the efficiency by 10% that saves ~20 million gallons a day. At $4/gallon that is $80M less per day spent to move stuff around.
    ---

    yes, that is all money that businesses and truckers spend. are you suggesting that they want to spend all of this money? and they will continue to spend all this money until the government says they can't? don't you think they are already figuring out ways to save that money and keep it in their pocket? of course they are!! they don't need an overbearing government to tell them that!!

    February 18, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Taxes, taxes taxes

    February 18, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    just asking

    ok, so the cost of fuel is already very high and everybody is already trying to figure out how to make more efficient vehicles. why does the government need to stick its nose into this at all? do they think truckers and companies enjoy paying more for fuel???
    -----------------------–
    You wouldn't be saying that if you've ever sat in hours long traffic jam on a hot summer's day with big trucks around you. The fumes that they emit is enough to make you pass out. Unless you have an onboard air supply, rolling up the windows doesn't really help. In fact, rolling up your windows and closingup your vents can frequently make matters worse because it traps the exhausts inside your vehicle. Your nose just stops telling your brain that the fumes are present.

    February 18, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Fair, be serious: what real evidence do you have that that would even be considered? You're one of the more level-headed people in here, so why are you doing that?

    How else will the department of transportation deal with a 20% reduction in revenue, Tom?
    ------------------------
    Fair stopped being serious shortly after the 2012 election. I wonder where she got this "20% reduction in income" theory from.

    February 18, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. ascpgh

    Private and publicly-owned companies know the second greatest cost after capital equipment is fuel. Increased economy has been addressed and pressure on manufacturers has been there to improve this performance for years.

    The problem is government equipment, from the federal GSA fleet to your local municipality. Obama will grant exceptions without a doubt to all governments', just like has is not done doing willy-nilly in healthcare.

    This Manchurian cannot grasp the powerful self-directing impact of capitalism. He must really believe that evil industry is conspiring to use more fuel on purpose. Meanwhile your local school continues to pollute inordinately the air their passengers breathe with their antique, 6 MPG engines, belching clouds of black partially combusted diesel oil.

    But it's OK, its the government!

    February 18, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. rs

    just asking

    ok, so the cost of fuel is already very high and everybody is already trying to figure out how to make more efficient vehicles. why does the government need to stick its nose into this at all?
    ___________________________
    Well, first of all the price of fuel is actually artificially low. So low in fact that oil companies are exporting oil out of the United States to counties where prices are higher(so much for the drilling boom doing good things for our oil supply). As to why the government is fielding regulations on vehicles... where have you been? Vehicle safety and efficiency standards have been the norm since the mid-1960s- and they have been to everyone's benefits because without them, we'd still be trolling around in inefficient cars with little or no safety equipment because that would make producing automobile really cheap (see India as a contemporary example- cheap- relatively dirty, deadly cars).
    More efficient trucks- that is trucks that can produce acceptable mpg for the current cheap fuel at say 75mph are more efficient in performance than ones that get the same fuel efficiency at 55. Meanwhile, forcing older, dirty trucks off the road (or to other nations improves our nation's fleet with safer, cleaner, more efficient trucks that will be built and sold here- you know- jobs.
    You would praise such regs from a Republican, but because they come from Mr. Obama- well you know.

    February 18, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  18. Mike C

    Translation: you will pay more gasoline taxes to pay for technology that can't sustain itself while at the same time costing companies more money which translate into cutting more workers.

    February 18, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  19. garypsmith321

    Good idea, let's make it tough on independent truckers during a tough economic times. That will fix everything.....

    February 18, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Fair, be serious: what real evidence do you have that that would even be considered? You're one of the more level-headed people in here, so why are you doing that?

    How else will the department of transportation deal with a 20% reduction in revenue, Tom?
    --------
    Fair stopped being serious shortly after the 2012 election. I wonder where she got this "20% reduction in income" theory from.
    -------
    OK, she got the "20% reduction in revenue" through simple mathematics, Rudy. You increase fuel efficiency by 20%, you use 20% less fuel. You use 20% less fuel, you pay 20% less fuel taxes in the current per-gallon model gallon of taxation. What part of that don't you understand?

    February 18, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  21. Mark

    You thought groceries were expensive before. Obama will fix that like health care :)

    February 18, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  22. Fair is Fair

    rs

    just asking

    ok, so the cost of fuel is already very high and everybody is already trying to figure out how to make more efficient vehicles. why does the government need to stick its nose into this at all?
    ___________________________
    Well, first of all the price of fuel is actually artificially low. So low in fact that oil companies are exporting oil out of the United States to counties where prices are higher(so much for the drilling boom doing good things for our oil supply). As to why the government is fielding regulations on vehicles... where have you been?
    -------
    rs, everyone purchases oil at the market rate. The only difference in price between our prices and other country's is taxation (with the exception of refining costs for those countries who have no refining capability).

    February 18, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  23. One thing is CERTAIN

    If Obama is doing something, then you know for sure the following will happen:

    1. Government will grow.
    2. Taxes will go up.
    3. The economy will be adversely affected.
    4. The middle class will suffer and get the shaft.
    5. Working American will decline further.
    6. A new government entitlement program will be created.
    7. Businesses will be further drowned in rules and regulations.
    8. We will all have less freedom.
    9. Stuff will cost more.
    10. All of the above will be blamed on others.

    February 18, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    OK, she got the "20% reduction in revenue" through simple mathematics, Rudy. You increase fuel efficiency by 20%, you use 20% less fuel. You use 20% less fuel, you pay 20% less fuel taxes in the current per-gallon model gallon of taxation. What part of that don't you understand?
    --------------------------
    None of it. I don't see anything in the article that says the President is calling for a 20% increase in fuel efficiency. Your math is just as flawed as your ideology. Your math makes the false assumption that all revenue is generated from the fuel taxes from the fuels used by heavy duty trucks. Truck fuel revenue is just one slice of the pie.

    February 18, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  25. rs

    " 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."
    ____________________
    Ahhh, the inconvenience of facts. More people are covered, and medical costs went up at the lowest rate in 20 years.

    February 18, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
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