Obama takes next step in fuel efficiency drive
February 18th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
10 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. Bobpitt

    @..The REAL Obama Agenda exposed...

    The real enemy of Coal has been shale gas, Shale gas is cheaper for generating plants to operate lower emissions and rid off lots of unnecessary operating equipment, Obama has nothing to do with it.. you should blame T Bonne Pickens as e has champion shale gas as an alternative.

    February 18, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  2. Sniffit

    "Sure, everyone wants better fuel milage. But, this is just Obama taking your eyes off the failing Obamacare."

    Just because the GOP/Teatrolls are having a serious bout of delusional obsessive compulsive fixation and think it's their best chance to win in 2014 if they convince everyone to join them, doesn't mean Obama actually should join them. He's got other things to do than constantly play nursemaid to the GOP/Teatrolls' temper tantrums.

    February 18, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    "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?"
    -------------------------
    According to conservative economists, economic growth will make up the difference. You're arguing red herrings and imaginary hypotheticals, which is better known as fear mongering.

    February 18, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. i'malib

    I put a windmill on my Yugo, but it didn't work.

    February 18, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  5. mlbex

    @Jerry: tick tock, tick tock. Our resources are being eroded as quickly as our freedoms. We'll be lucky to arrive at mid-century with either intact.

    February 18, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. JWV4

    SNIFFIT

    Perhaps you should take a little time and have a working adult explain to you the lies and damage BO has done to this great country.

    February 18, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  7. Lizzie

    rs,you always scream about subsidies the oil companies get, besides depletion, every corporation gets the same. Yet the oil companies pay billions in royalty to the government, you don't complain about that, or the taxes they pay.

    February 18, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. Dufus Dingleberry

    Actions speak louder than words.

    February 18, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  9. mlbex

    @Gunderson: I've heard about Martians landing in Duluth too but I haven't seen any evidence.

    February 18, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  10. JWV4

    Look back at 2008 Obama himself and Steven Chu flat out said they were out to make American energy rival that of Euorpes. Their will be no middle class by the time Obama is done.

    February 18, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    -Lizzie

    rs,you always scream about subsidies the oil companies get, besides depletion, every corporation gets the same. Yet the oil companies pay billions in royalty to the government, you don't complain about that, or the taxes they pay.
    ********************
    The billions they make far outweigh any taxes they pay or subsidies they receive. That being said, why should they be subsidized?

    February 18, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. mlbex

    rs:
    Insanity- yet the GOP supports the oil & gas industry with "socialist" subsidies. Care to explain that?
    ----
    I can explain it. The oil companies have both parties by the shorthairs.

    February 18, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  13. differentstripes

    When will they make cars and trucks that use no energy at all? Think of how many jobs that would create! Come on Obama, make this happen! So what if it's physically impossible? It's for the good of our planet! For our children!

    February 18, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Lizzie

    rs,you always scream about subsidies the oil companies get, besides depletion, every corporation gets the same. Yet the oil companies pay billions in royalty to the government, you don't complain about that, or the taxes they pay.
    --------------------------–
    Oil companies pay royalties based upon how much product that they extract. In other words, they can sit on unused land and not pay anything, all the while demanding expansion of exploration.

    February 18, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    -JWV4

    This is ALL about taking your eyes off the obamacare failure. We the people are tired of the lies.
    ****************
    Still practicing for the middle school debate? This is a thread about fuel efficiency standards, in case you did not bother to read.

    February 18, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  16. mlbex

    rs:
    Insanity- yet the GOP supports the oil & gas industry with "socialist" subsidies. Care to explain that?
    --
    I can explain it. The oil companies have both parties in their pockets.

    February 18, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ktrostel.
    Again, better efficiencies are great, I just don't believe it when a politician tells me is great.
    -------------------------------------------------
    You've proved WOW's post.
    It is indeed not the message that you object to but the messenger.

    February 18, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    -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.
    **********************
    Yes, as a possibility, so its a discussion worth having. I prefer to be prepared.

    February 18, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. JWV4

    All of Obama's actions seem to be out to hurt the middle class.

    February 18, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. VL

    The government never wants middle class because they are the ones who can actually think critically of the government. The poor will shut up as long as they get freebies. The rich will shut up as long as they get tax breaks. But the middle class will be fighting for what they truly believe in, which the government is truly scared of. By removing it, both parties will be happy and make their lives easier. Wealth gap is created by both parties.

    February 18, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    JWV4 wrote:

    Look back at 2008 Obama himself and Steven Chu flat out said they were out to make American energy rival that of Euorpes.
    ------------------------
    I assume that you mean 2009, not 2008. Steven Chu was confirmed by a unanimous vote in the Senate on January 20, 2009 and sworn in the very next day. If what you claim is true, then why would every Republican vote for him?

    February 18, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. Silence DoGood

    @mlbex
    @Jerry: tick tock, tick tock. Our resources are being eroded as quickly as our freedoms. We'll be lucky to arrive at mid-century with either intact.
    ---------------–
    Your corporate overlords will give you your ration of freedom and resources when you submit be their slaves. That and a cute Walmart vest. Now go unload the subsidy and take it to the vault.

    February 18, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. Sniffit

    "Sniffit, I'm not talking about net cost per mile. My example is net tax revenue per mile travelled. My example is a simple illustration of how much tax is collected on a 30 mile trip with the control being tax per gallon with the variable being miles per gallon. It's a standard scientific experiment, is it not?"

    Ah, I see what you meant now: More efficiency = less tax revenue. Yeah, so? Even if we adjusted the tax proportionately upwards to account for growing efficiency, it would be a miniscule adjustment...and likely unnecessary because the numbers of cars on the road and drivers keeps increasing. Anyway, $0.194 per gallon becomes $0.204 per gallon and the sky falls? Hardly.

    February 18, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  24. Max

    "President Barack Obama is set to announce the energy and environmental initiative at a Safeway distribution center in Maryland'

    Will he be taking his gas guzzling jet and SUV to the event?

    February 18, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  25. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    "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?"
    ---------
    According to conservative economists, economic growth will make up the difference. You're arguing red herrings and imaginary hypotheticals, which is better known as fear mongering.
    -------
    As expected. No facts, just talking points.

    February 18, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14