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President Obama announces plan for new fuel efficiency standards for trucks, buses, and other heavy-duty vehicles [US]

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, Obama has ordered his administration to develop ambitious new fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles so that they will be implemented by early 2016, before he leaves office.  While the specifics of the rules are still in development, they follow similar fuel efficiency standards for automobiles launched in 2011.  In addition, during Obama’s first term the administration completed fuel standards requiring a 20 percent reduction in heavy-vehicle emissions by 2018.

The announcement was made at grocer Safeway’s distribution center in Marlboro, Maryland.  Obama called the proposed strict rules a “win-win-win” as they reduce carbon pollution, cut down on businesses’ fuel costs, and reduce prices for consumers.  Trucks make up only 4 percent of vehicles on the road but generate approximately 20 percent of U.S. vehicle carbon emissions.  Shippers have voiced cautious optimism about the new rules that will lead to reduced fuel costs; however, many smaller trucking companies are concerned about the costs of bringing their fleets into compliance.

To further President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA and other federal agencies have taken unilateral regulatory action in the face of a bitterly divided Congress that has shown little appetite for environmental legislation.  The President’s plan also includes rules requiring passenger cars and light trucks to be more efficient, pending rules limiting carbon emissions from new power plants, and expected rules limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants.  Rules on existing power plants are expected by June of 2014 are will almost certainly face fierce opposition and litigation.


Justin Sink, Obama orders new green rules, The Hill, February 18, 2014 (http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/198592-obama-orders-new-green-standards-for-trucks)

Peter Baker and Coral Davenport, Obama Orders New Efficiency for Big Trucks, New York Times, February 18, 2014 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/19/us/politics/obama-to-request-new-rules-for-cutting-truck-pollution.html?ref=us)

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