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. Fair is Fair

    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.
    -------
    In other words, you have no facts. Not surprising. OK, here's a real-world FACT. Assume a truck gets 5 miles per gallon, mandated to increse to six miles per gallon. At 5 miles per gallon, it it takes 6 gallons to travel 30 miles, whereas as 5 miles per gallon, it takes 6 gallons to travel the same 30 miles. If the tax is 10 cents per gallon, the net tax is 60 cents at 5 miles per gallon, whereas it's 50 cents at 6 miles per gallon. How is the difference made up?

    February 18, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. mlbex

    @sniffit

    The companies that buy these trucks will then pass the increase in costs to the consumer and tax payers"
    ---------

    This assumes that price is set by the cost to produce something, and not what the market will bear. If the cost is set by what the market will bear, then it can't be passed on, and increased costs must come from profits. The cost of goods is a three-part pie: price, labor, and profit. All can be adjusted, but of course management wants you to believe that profit is not part of that give-and-take.

    February 18, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. Bill from GA

    Long-haul trucks may achieve between 5 and 7 mpg. Test models of new fuel-efficient rigs get almost 10 mpg. Engine life can approach 1 million miles. Diesel costs around $4 per gallon.
    These trucks will save a lot of money, long-term.

    An alternative is a truck using natural gas. Need more infrastructure for filling trucks with natural gas.

    And why not trains using natural gas? Put a tank car behind the engine, swap out the tank car for a fill-up?? How bout that one, T-Bone Pickens?? (Wasn't he a blues guitar player?)

    February 18, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  4. rs

    Warren Breaux

    I always wondered why they don't build tractor trucks like they do Diesel electrics Locomotives.
    _____________________
    Certainly not an over the road truck- but that is essentially what the Chevy Volt is. I met a guy who did what you proposed with a VW Rabbit PU (remember those?!)- electric motors, a two cylinder diesel to drive a generator, 4 truck batteries- he claimed 60 mpg- in the 1980s.

    February 18, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. Kris

    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?
    ______________________
    with people driving more and more electric and hybrid vehicles that still tear up the roads, the old tax at the pump method will not work to pay for our roads. Something has to be done, its not big brother you use it you should pay for it.

    February 18, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    -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."
    ******************
    Well, perhaps she recognises the fact that revenues need to remain constant in order to maintain and repair the aging infrastructure. Perhaps she does not believe in the infrastructure fairies coming by to magically repair things at no cost. That would explain her asking how to make up for a potential revenue shortfall.

    February 18, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. Sniffit

    "Change to worse is not change Sniffit.."

    Ah yes, because you don't want change, any change at all is worse. There's no reasonable argument under the sun for why fuel efficient trucks are "worse" than inefficient, gas guzzling pollution spewers. The same is true for stopping the ridiculous, unnecessary subsidies to Big Oil and turning it around into research to create that kind of progress. No argument. None....unless you're heavily invested in Big Oil.

    February 18, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. rs

    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.
    __________________________
    Seen the condition of our interstate highway system and bridges lately- how would you pay for that? A few pennies on the gallon won't effect things all that much. Face it- for good government (and public infrastructure) you need taxes. Meanwhile, our gas is still ridiculously cheap.

    February 18, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Truly EXCELLENT post WOW.
    Thank you.

    February 18, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. Sniffit

    "@sniffit

    The companies that buy these trucks will then pass the increase in costs to the consumer and tax payers"
    ---

    This assumes that price is set by the cost to produce something"
    ===
    I was quoting someone else. Always surprises me that people miss that.

    February 18, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    -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.
    **********************
    No it reflects the fact that we produce oil, whereas most of the countries you describe do not. The " real market price" you talk about is a reflection of that fact, not some innate purity of American economic policies. By the way, how do you like the Alaska state shakedown of the oil bidness? I'm suprised more righties don't head there to get their free checks. How does that square with your statements regarding socialism?

    February 18, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. bobo

    The extra cost of this will be passed on to the consumers which in turn HURTS the Middle Class!

    February 18, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. rs

    Kris

    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?
    ______________________
    with people driving more and more electric and hybrid vehicles that still tear up the roads, the old tax at the pump method will not work to pay for our roads. Something has to be done, its not big brother you use it you should pay for it.
    ________________
    Good point- IF we believe the pure electric car is the future- I'll be it isn't given our reliance on cheap, dirty coal to make electricity. Meanwhile, whatever the "hybrid" fuel is (diesel, gas, propane, hydrogen, electricity, etc...) can all be taxed. Not moving forward because the GOP has an irrational fear of a gasoline tax is simply bad policy.

    February 18, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. JWV4

    Remember it was Obama and Steve Chu that said they wanted American energy to rival that of Euorpes. Why? Because it"s a great way to break the country that's why.

    February 18, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  15. Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    "Well, perhaps she recognises the fact that revenues need to remain constant in order to maintain and repair the aging infrastructure. Perhaps she does not believe in the infrastructure fairies coming by to magically repair things at no cost. That would explain her asking how to make up for a potential revenue shortfall."
    ----------
    At least you recognize there WILL be a revenuie shortfall, Tom. Clearly Rudy won't accept that fact.

    February 18, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sniffit
    I was quoting someone else. Always surprises me that people miss that.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Your problemis that you're too subtle. Too smooth.
    Nuances, I've discovered, are lost on the usual suspects on this thread.
    In your face, they understand that concept, if not the thought behind it.

    February 18, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. Mike

    "And Obama is expected to renew a long-ignored call for Congress to end what he calls “subsidies” for oil and gas companies, and use that money to create a new Energy Security Trust Fund to help finance research and development of new vehicle technologies."

    Do we not already have a Department of Energy whose responsibility it is to reduce dependancy on foreign oil, investigate and formulate plans for alternative fuel sources?

    February 18, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. Shelia

    Sniffit

    It is obvious you have no idea what obama polices and promises were compared to now.. spend some time researching.

    February 18, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  19. mlbex

    @Snifit: Got me there. Consider my comment to them, not to you.
    You might try putting their name before the quote to make it easier to find.

    February 18, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  20. kev

    Obama, sparing NO EXPENSE to (try to) make the US a 'green utopia" for your grandchildren, by making EVERYTHING more expensive for the next 20 years. Just ANOTHER hit to the wallet of the low and middle class, you know, the ones that BUY the things delivered by the TRUCKS you just TAXED AGAIN.

    February 18, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  21. Bob

    The railroads will love this

    February 18, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  22. tom l

    What I have noticed here that is interesting is that the left on here will always make comments like "no matter what, the haters on here will be against everything Obama..." Have you noticed that no matter what that those same people that chastise for only thinking one way do the exact same thing only in the exact opposite way. There is almost nothing here that the left ever criticizes him for except for him not being "tough enough". So you have on your side an unconditional love/enamoring/infatuation (like a dog to their owner) with him that is just the mirror opposite.

    You read comments like "Congress has no interest in assisting our wonderful, forward focus, long-run thinking President..." and you can glean from that there is no critical thought. Just admiration.

    February 18, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  23. Tommy G

    The Real Tom Paine
    No it reflects the fact that we produce oil, whereas most of the countries you describe do not.
    --

    So now we even have the lefties in here denying the FACT, aka lying, that fuel prices in Europe are high because the socialist governments over there place taxes of $2-3 a gallon on them. Wake up America. This is the very same future the far left socialist Democrat Party has in store for you. Oil is evil and must be taxed out of existence.

    February 18, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  24. rs

    Mike

    "And Obama is expected to renew a long-ignored call for Congress to end what he calls “subsidies” for oil and gas companies, and use that money to create a new Energy Security Trust Fund to help finance research and development of new vehicle technologies."

    Do we not already have a Department of Energy whose responsibility it is to reduce dependancy on foreign oil, investigate and formulate plans for alternative fuel sources?
    _________________
    Yes, and oil companies selling oil pumped in the U.S. abroad as fast as they can. Whose oil is that?

    February 18, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  25. JWV4

    Fact is cars have been getting 30+ MPG for over 20 years we should be doing much better. Big oil and car companies have been in bed together forever.

    February 18, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
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