“Five years ago, we set out to break our dependence on foreign oil,” President Barack Obama said on Tuesday, speaking at a Safeway distribution center in Maryland. “And today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades … one of the reasons why is because we dedicated ourselves to manufacturing new cars and new trucks that go farther on a gallon of gas — and that saves families money, it cuts down harmful pollution, and it creates new advances in American technology.”
Obama first set fuel-efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses in 2014, mandating vehicles built in 2014 through 2018. The rules required that big-rig trucks achieve up to 20 percent increased fuel efficiency, that heavy-duty pickups and vans achieve approximately 15 percent increased efficiency, and that vocational vehicles like delivery trucks, buses, and garbage trucks achieve approximately 10 percent increased efficiency. With their powers combined, these efficiencies are expected to reduce fuel spending by $50 billion, oil consumption by 530 million barrels, and greenhouse gas pollution by 270 million metric tons over the life of the program.
On Tuesday, Obama made good on a promise he made during the State of the Union address and announced that he is directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DoT) to develop the next stage of fuel-efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, adding to the standards set in 2011. Obama directed the EPA and the DoT to develop and issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by March 2015 and to implement the next phase of the program by March 2016. The next phase will “reach well into the next decade,” he said.
The White House has highlighted the need to implement fuel-efficiency standards with this factoid: “In 2010, heavy-duty vehicles represented just four percent of registered vehicles on the road in the United States, but they accounted for approximately 25 percent of on-road fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.” This makes heavy-duty vehicles the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, out-polluted only by passenger cars and light trucks, for which the Obama administration finalized efficiency standards in 2012.
“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Obama said when the standards for cars and light-duty trucks were set in 2012. “By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today.”
The White House calculates that the new fuel efficiency standards will save Americans $1.7 trillion in fuel costs by 2025, or more than $8,000 over the life of a vehicle. By 2025, the savings on fuel are expected to work out to $1 per gallon.