WASHINGTON — President Obama will announce on Tuesday that his administration will begin developing the next phase of tighter fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles, according to the White House.
The announcement, which the White House says Obama will make at a distribution center for the grocery chain Safeway in Upper Marlboro, Md., later this morning, follows his State of the Union pledge last month to set new fuel standards for trucks "so we can keep driving down oil and imports and what we pay at the pump."
The president will order the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop and issue new fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 31, 2016, according to a White House report on the executive action Obama will announce.
Although heavy-duty vehicles account for just 4% of registered vehicles on the road in the USA, they account for approximately 25% of road-fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions coming from the transportation sector.
From a previous round of bolstering fuel standards, which were finalized by the Obama administration in 2011, the White House projects the country will save about 530 million barrels of oil — more than what is imported annually from Saudi Arabia — and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons.
The president also previously issued new standards that double fuel efficiency in light vehicles and trucks by 2025. The light-vehicle standards are eventually projected to reduce fuel consumption by 2.2 million barrels per day.
Obama's 2011 directive on heavy-duty vehicles impacted new models from 2014 to 2018. According to those standards, manufacturers of big rigs and semi trucks were required to achieve a 20% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse emissions, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans were required to achieve a 15% reduction, and delivery trucks, buses and garbage trucks were required to achieve a 10% reduction. The administration touts the first round standards will save vehicle owners and operators $50 billion in fuel costs.
In the administration's past push for bolstering fuel efficiency standards for passenger and heavy-duty vehicles, manufacturers had expressed some resistance to Washington dictating costly improvements. But as the administration has made reducing fuel consumption a top priority, the manufacturers have sought to have a greater voice in shaping the rules.
Obama is also expected to repeat his call for Congress to end subsidies to oil and gas companies and create an Energy Security Trust Fund to fund research and development for advanced vehicle technologies. He will also tout the National Clean Fleets Partnership his administration launched in 2011, in which the Department of Energy has provided its expertise to 23 companies with large vehicle fleets reduce diesel and gasoline use and transition to alternative fuels.
The White House picked the Safeway distribution center because the grocery chain —which has participated in an EPA-led initiative — has made big strides improving the efficiency of its trucking fleet.