Drawing a link between fuel consumption and climate change, President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered his administration to develop and implement new fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty commercial trucks by March 2016.
As he indicated in last month's State of the Union address, Obama has opted to bypass Congress and is directing the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to draft the new standards.
Speaking from a Safeway supermarket distribution center in Upper Marlboro, Md., Obama said that while heavy-duty trucks make up just four percent of the vehicles on the nation's roadways, they are responsible for about 20 percent of carbon pollution created by the transportation sector.
Both trucking industry advocates and environmental groups welcome the move. "Strong heavy truck efficiency standards will not only cut carbon pollution that fuels climate change," but also save money for consumers and truckers, said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"This announcement is another historic milestone for commercial vehicles and the many industries which depend on the efficient, reliable power of diesel and natural gas engines," said Tom Linebarger, the chief executive and chairman of Cummins.
The new round of fuel efficiency standards would follow similar rules that have been finalized for the 2014-18 model years of medium and heavy-duty trucks. Under those standards, vehicle owners and operators stand to save $50 billion in fuel costs and use 530 million fewer barrels of oil, according to a White House fact sheet.
Photo credit: John Eastcott and Yva Momatiuk / National Geographic