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. Tommy G

    rs
    Well, first of all the price of fuel is actually artificially low.
    -–

    Interesting, do tell more. Why are prices artificially low? What price should Obama and the Democrats try to drive them up to?

    February 18, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  2. Nikki6

    Just Asking.....if human beings would have been more efficient in the first place or made the effort to change on their own, then the government wouldn't have to step in. You should be mad at the greedy 1% who control this country. i.e. banks, manufacturors, and pretty much any CEO of any company in this country. Especially oil companies. Those people only care about the money in their pockets.

    February 18, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    -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?
    ********************
    Say that your theory comes to pass, and the revenues are reduced 20%: besides the model you propose, what other option is there? We could do what Romney did in MA, which was to increase the tax on a gallon of gas. He was actually very creative in ways to attach fees to transportation, but I doubt that would work now. So, according to you, we should be willing to accept highly inefficient trucks so the Transporation Department can keep their current revenue stream? Is that acceptable to you? It amounts to a government subsidy.

    February 18, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  4. rs

    NooYawkah

    Hear that sound? That's the price of everything going up at the same time.
    _____________________________
    Ever hear of depreciation taxes? When the cost to move something goes down because of lower fuel costs, or less transportation time- so do costs- or at least profits go up. Old equipment gets written off. Stop with the fear mongering.

    February 18, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  5. Rozelle

    Are people finally realizing that Obama is all pretty speeches and no follow-through? Hillary was right.

    February 18, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  6. Fair is Fair

    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.
    --------
    Right. The model still holds, no matter the % increase in efficiency. 20% was an example. But go ahead, Rudy... try to say that Obama hasn't mandated higher fuel efficiency on autos. Go ahead.

    February 18, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. Barry

    Obama is utterly determined to destroy the US economy.
    He figures that if everyone is on welfare, they will all vote democrat.

    February 18, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. Shelia

    While Obama's policies fries from solar panels and wind turbines (made in china) birds ...way to protect the environment..

    February 18, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. hscrugby

    Trying to force car and truck manufacturers to improve fuel economy standards is a highly inefficent way to attack this problem. Nobody would like it, but the most efficent way to get to better fuel economy in vehicles would be a higher tax on gasoline. This is Econ 101, if there is a negative externality related to a product, tax that product to pay for the externality. The Dems realize this is true, but they also know that it would be political suicide to advocate for increased gas taxes. Therefore, they try to alter the supply side of the equation without any change in demand. What most people don't realize is that in the long run they are paying for this through higher vehicle costs. I'm not a fan of an increased gas tax, but if we are going to be serious about reducing dependence on fossil fuels, this is the only effective way to do it. To do otherwise is disingenuous.

    February 18, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. Barry

    Eliminating subsidies will raise the price of gasoline at the pump. Obama is too ignorant to understand that subsidies are for the end benefit of consumers.

    February 18, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  11. Not Too Hard To Understand

    Well, at least one person has the vision and courage to begin moving this country's energy policy in the proper direction.

    February 18, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. Shelia

    OBAMA just stop!!!! you aren't helping... You have and are making everything worse.. from health care to wars and the environment..Everything he touches becomes ruin...

    February 18, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  13. rs

    Tommy G

    rs
    Well, first of all the price of fuel is actually artificially low.
    -–

    Interesting, do tell more. Why are prices artificially low? What price should Obama and the Democrats try to drive them up to?
    _______________________________
    Uh, hello, anyone in there? Please spend a minute on the web and look at both the price, and the refined standards for oil products world-wide. You will find my friend that except for tin-pot oil producing nations in the Middle East, prices of oil product in the U.S. are near half what they are anywhere else. Wasn't it Dick Cheney who said the President "has no effect upon the price of gas"? Really think that changed?

    February 18, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  14. Shelia

    Where are the JOBS????

    February 18, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    -Tommy G

    rs
    Well, first of all the price of fuel is actually artificially low.
    -–

    Interesting, do tell more. Why are prices artificially low? What price should Obama and the Democrats try to drive them up to?
    *****************
    Well, since you already had the answer worked out in that teeny-tiny intellect of yours before the question was even asked, why don't you do the honors? In your reality, what role do the Doemcrats play in determining what you pay at the pump? Please tell us, because I don't think we covered that part in our seminars on destroying the country.

    February 18, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  16. HenryMiller

    "In action that does not require congressional approval, Obama aims to build on the first-ever fuel standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that now cover model years 2014-18."

    Why in hell does this two-bit petty would-be dictator think he's has the authority to do this?

    And why in hell hasn't the House written up the necessary articles of impeachment to bounce this bozo back to Chicago?

    February 18, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. rs

    Barry

    Eliminating subsidies will raise the price of gasoline at the pump. Obama is too ignorant to understand that subsidies are for the end benefit of consumers.
    _____________________
    Is that the Rights corollary to "give rich people tax cuts and they'll make jobs"?
    You do realize "American" oil companies are selling oil taken from the ground in the U.S. abroad as fast as they can right? That is the function of the socialist "incentives" for the oil & gas industry the GOP supports.

    February 18, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  18. Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    'Say that your theory comes to pass, and the revenues are reduced 20%: besides the model you propose, what other option is there? We could do what Romney did in MA, which was to increase the tax on a gallon of gas. He was actually very creative in ways to attach fees to transportation, but I doubt that would work now. So, according to you, we should be willing to accept highly inefficient trucks so the Transporation Department can keep their current revenue stream? Is that acceptable to you? It amounts to a government subsidy."
    --------
    First, Tom, there was no increase on the fuel tax during Romney's tenure in MA. I live here. Take my word for it. Second – in no way whatsoever am I saying we should accept highley inefficient vehicles. That simply was not the intent of my post. My post was to point out that there will be a coresponding decrease in net revenue, and that in order to operate at the same budget, one of 2 things will need to occur – an increase in the per-gallon tax under the current model, OR a different model of taxation. Am I wrong?

    February 18, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. salty dog

    Corrupt unions, they so desperately want the unions killed, their here to protect workers rights, the gop wants them gone, and your rights go away with them too. Its easy yo see where things are continually getting worse for workers, the gop led government threatened workers, when the company wouldn't. Why is it so hard for people to understand why they want the unions gone. They attack your rights from every angle, abortion, voting: trying to end the unions. Education is the key, that's why they want to privatize schools.

    February 18, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. Shelia

    No worries if food prices rocket we all will be on food stamps..Maybe Obama will pass a gas subsidy, a housing subsidy, a food subsidy, heat subsidy just like health care.. We all can be equally poor.

    February 18, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  21. rs

    Shelia

    While Obama's policies fries from solar panels and wind turbines (made in china) birds ...way to protect the environment..
    __________________
    Naturally polluting the atmosphere with tar-sands-based products or burning coal to the extent that you can see it and practically walk on it is better for the environment-eh? If you believe what the Koch brothers tell you... you think they have your little interests at heart?

    February 18, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    "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."

    Right. The model still holds, no matter the % increase in efficiency. 20% was an example. But go ahead, Rudy... try to say that Obama hasn't mandated higher fuel efficiency on autos. Go ahead.
    -------------------------
    Your "model" is a house of bent cards. Your "model" makes the false assumption that the number of vehicles on the road will remain constant. Your "model" is flawed, with no basis in facts or reality. We've raised fuel efficiency standards on consumer automobiles in the past with no ill effects. Consevative doomsayers are always wrong.

    February 18, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  23. rs

    Shelia

    No worries if food prices rocket we all will be on food stamps..Maybe Obama will pass a gas subsidy, a housing subsidy, a food subsidy, heat subsidy just like health care.. We all can be equally poor.
    _____________________________
    Sure- try living on $40 a month food stamps. Let me know how that works for you. Meanwhile you have zero proof of any relationship between higher fuel efficiency and prices of anything. Economists will tell you the inverse is true.

    February 18, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    'Say that your theory comes to pass, and the revenues are reduced 20%: besides the model you propose, what other option is there? We could do what Romney did in MA, which was to increase the tax on a gallon of gas. He was actually very creative in ways to attach fees to transportation, but I doubt that would work now. So, according to you, we should be willing to accept highly inefficient trucks so the Transporation Department can keep their current revenue stream? Is that acceptable to you? It amounts to a government subsidy."
    --–
    First, Tom, there was no increase on the fuel tax during Romney's tenure in MA. I live here. Take my word for it. Second – in no way whatsoever am I saying we should accept highley inefficient vehicles. That simply was not the intent of my post. My post was to point out that there will be a coresponding decrease in net revenue, and that in order to operate at the same budget, one of 2 things will need to occur – an increase in the per-gallon tax under the current model, OR a different model of taxation. Am I wrong?
    *********************************
    I am not disputing that, Fair. I am saying that Romney generated over 60 million in revenue through a fee that was attached to the purchase of gas. It was $.02/ gallon. The info is there, and all I am saying is that if there is the drop that you suggest for the USDOT, then how can that be made up? What is the least punitive way of getting that revenue back AND increase the fuel efficiency? BTW, none of us are experts on the gas taxes, so at best we are all shooting in the dark.

    February 18, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  25. Shelia

    Naturally polluting the atmosphere with tar-sands-based products or burning coal to the extent that you can see it and practically walk on it is better for the environment-eh? If you believe what the Koch brothers tell you... you think they have your little interests at heart?
    _____
    What I'm saying is there is NO thought in these policies and if you think a world without birds is paradise go right ahead and worship a lie

    February 18, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
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