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. 1984

    With the heavy tax on fuel and the possibility of losing that revenue , The Feds and States will start putting taxes on the mileage your drive. So be careful people.

    February 18, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. Shelia

    Rs... I was a welfare mom would you like to discuses with me more...? I think I Have first hand knowledge of OBAMA and polices you support so until you walk a mile in my shoe move along..I worked HARD to get off it only for this country to want to put everyone on it,, NO THANK YOU!!

    February 18, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. sg

    i do think that gas companies dont need the subsidies. After all, even if prices go up if they lose them, the fact is that we are paying for them anyway through taxes. Not to mention that fuel efficiency something that car manufacturers are not going to pursue unless given a push.

    February 18, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. conoclast

    Executive order is for sure the way around an intransigent congress - but surely Obama realizes by now that all he ever need do to sail a bill past republican stonewalling is to come out vigorously AGAINST it.

    The House braintrusts in particular would fall all over themselves in a predictable rush to "defeat" the Prez: a thing of beauty!

    February 18, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  5. andrew

    Just like health insurance, the prices for medium and heavy duty trucks will go up. The companies that buy these trucks will then pass the increase in costs to the consumer and tax payers.....

    February 18, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. Fair is Fair

    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.
    --------
    MY model is a house of bent cards? YOUR model assumes that for revenue to remain constant, there has to be an increase of consumption equal to the loss of per-gallon taxation tax receipts.

    February 18, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. rs

    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.
    _______________________
    Quite so, and the side benefit would be more federal funding (and state and county if those rates also rise) for roads. Meanwhile though, remember during the late 1970s American manufacturers were say the maximum efficiency one could get fro a mid-sized car was about 20 mpg. Today, not only do mid-sized cars get around 35 mpg, the technology has raised the efficiency of even egregiously-powered modern muscle cars and sports cars to the mid 20s or higher. No one would have bet on 400-500 hp yielding 25mpg in the 70s.
    The point is, the government though the EPA created those regulations in partnership with industry- and we see the results today. Relying on industry to make the choice between higher profits or more efficiency is always a losing bet.

    February 18, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. rs

    andrew

    Just like health insurance, the prices for medium and heavy duty trucks will go up. The companies that buy these trucks will then pass the increase in costs to the consumer and tax payers.....
    ___________________
    Or they will take the tax breaks for new equipment and superseding their old fleet.

    February 18, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. mlbex

    The most effective thing he could do is modify that let SUVs get classified as trucks, and base mileage standards on the number of seats. 1 row of seats + a bed = truck. 2 rows of seats + bed = half truck. 3 rows of seats and no bed = automobile, no matter what kind of frame you put it on. This would have the added benefit of bringing station wagons back into vogue for family transportation.

    February 18, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. rs

    Shelia

    Rs... I was a welfare mom would you like to discuses with me more...? I think I Have first hand knowledge of OBAMA and polices you support so until you walk a mile in my shoe move along..I worked HARD to get off it only for this country to want to put everyone on it,, NO THANK YOU!!
    ________________________
    So, then you know your argument is tripe, right?

    February 18, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    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?
    --------------------–
    The point of your post was fear mongering, Fair, plain and simple. You have no facts, just a narrow ideology that says everything Pres. Obama says or does is wrong and will blow up the planet in short order. Your dubious opinions are not facts, and there is nothing to support your doomsday prediction of a reduction in revenue because it is based upon a host of false assumptions.

    February 18, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    -Shelia

    Rs... I was a welfare mom would you like to discuses with me more...? I think I Have first hand knowledge of OBAMA and polices you support so until you walk a mile in my shoe move along..I worked HARD to get off it only for this country to want to put everyone on it,, NO THANK YOU!!
    ***************
    Sheila, I almost lost my house a few years ago during the time when the GOP held the reins. was underemployed, working two jobs sometimes. I found a job that finally paid me what I was worth, but I don't have a problem helping others. I guess you forgot about paying it forward. No one wanted you on welfare, but where was the helping hands the GOP waxes poetic about? Probably calling you a leech. Pay it forward, and have a little compassion for people who were in your position.

    February 18, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  13. rs

    1984

    With the heavy tax on fuel and the possibility of losing that revenue , The Feds and States will start putting taxes on the mileage your drive. So be careful people.
    ______________________
    Funny, you only hear about that from the Right-claiming that is an Obama era regulation waiting in the wings. Proof?

    February 18, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  14. CountryConcerned

    If he is so worried about the environment, why have the massive farm welfare system. It has done more to destroy the environment, drive up food costs, and put people in poverty than any other program.

    February 18, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. mlbex

    oops, typed too fast. "modify *the rule* that let SUVs...

    February 18, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Sniffit

    "Just like health insurance, the prices for medium and heavy duty trucks will go up. The companies that buy these trucks will then pass the increase in costs to the consumer and tax payers"

    Waaaaah, progress and innovation cost money!!! Waaaah, we should never ever do anything anymore in order to push industry forward and make life better!!!! Everything is good enough as it is and the status quo is perfectly dandy forever and ever!!!! Nothing needs to change ever because it's just fine the way it is!!!! Change and attempting to make things better are horrible!!!!

    Ridiculous.

    February 18, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  17. rs

    mlbex

    The most effective thing he could do is modify that let SUVs get classified as trucks, and base mileage standards on the number of seats. 1 row of seats + a bed = truck. 2 rows of seats + bed = half truck. 3 rows of seats and no bed = automobile, no matter what kind of frame you put it on. This would have the added benefit of bringing station wagons back into vogue for family transportation.
    ______________________
    But why? Trucks are less efficient, handle worse, are less safe. Every manufacturer offers crossovers (todays "station wagons") with unit body construction that are way more efficient, safer and in every way better-often with AWD. The SUV craze only proved that automobile makers could take a $15k truck, gussy it up and sell it for $45k.

    February 18, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. Warren Breaux

    I always wondered why they don't build tractor trucks like they do Diesel electrics Locomotives.

    February 18, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. ztarbod

    Who needs Congress, when you have the EPA.

    February 18, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  20. Wow

    Really. Whether you're a fan of the administration or not, are you really going to get yourself twisted up over the idea of better fuel efficiency. The technology exists it just needs to be implemented. Through depreciation, and the future savings this is not an economic issue. In fact it should pay for itself in short order and use less fuel, making the country even less dependent on foreign oil, and good for the environment. This should be a no brainer regardless of political affiliation. You can't despise every idea the man has, but it seems some of you do.

    February 18, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. Bubba Ray

    We can't have more fuel efficient vehicles. Won't someone please think of the BIg Oil companies!

    February 18, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    MY model is a house of bent cards? YOUR model assumes that for revenue to remain constant, there has to be an increase of consumption equal to the loss of per-gallon taxation tax receipts.
    --------------------------------
    I have made no predictions of anything. That's your ideology talking again. I've simply pointed out the numerous flaws in your fear mongering at the top of the thread. I find it amazing that you're even arguing for higher revenue. One would think that you would find lower revenue would equate to smaller government, and would not be complaining about it. Conservative hypocrisy strikes out again.

    "Nice try, but we gotcha."

    February 18, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  23. mlbex

    @rs: I'm with you there. SUVs should have been held to the same standard as cars, not trucks, because they are made for hauling people, not cargo. The auto industry exploited a loophole big enough to drive a truck through, thus weakening the mileage standard, and obsoleting the station wagon.

    February 18, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. Shelia

    Change to worse is not change Sniffit..

    February 18, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  25. Tommy G

    rs
    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.
    -–

    Yes, and those high fuel prices are due to the HUGE TAXES placed on them by the governments. The high price has absolutely nothing to do with the actual cost of the gas or oil. Those very high fuel prices are what is "artificially high'. Our prices reflect real market prices, not some socialist idea of what the price should be.

    February 18, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
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