President Barack Obama will direct his administration to issue the next round of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016, the White House said.
Obama will announce the action and prod Congress to expand fuel alternatives when he visits a Safeway Inc. distribution center today in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, to highlight the grocery chain’s efforts to improve truck efficiency.
The higher mileage standards are part of Obama’s strategy for energy security and dealing with climate change, the White House said in a statement. The administration previously set a standard requiring automakers to double average fuel economy of their fleets to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
Safeway participates in a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency that includes investing in trucks that get better mileage, in part through improved aerodynamics, tires with low rolling resistance and larger capacity trailers, according to the White House.
As part of today’s action, the EPA and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are being directed to to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by March of next year.
Heavy-duty vehicles account for about a quarter of U.S. on- road fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, according to the administration.
Today’s announcement follows the first-ever fuel-economy rules for U.S. truck makers three years ago, which sought to improve efficiency by about 20 percent by 2018, saving $50 billion in fuel costs over five years and decreasing carbon- dioxide emissions.
The administration’s plan, which also covered city buses and garbage trucks, was projected to save 530 million barrels of oil. The first round of regulations was intended to take off- the-shelf technologies already employed on real-world trucks.
The next round of regulations, for the 2018 model year and beyond, is expected to force the industry to deploy technology more aggressively. Besides engine and transmission improvements, trucking firms may have to adopt more aerodynamic trailers, adding skirts at the bottom or tails on the end to reduce wind resistance.
Like the first truck-efficiency rules, the next rules are supposed to be negotiated in close consultation with trucking firms, engine manufacturers, environmental groups and other stakeholders, according to a White House fact sheet. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department will consult with California regulators so there’s a single national standard, the fact sheet said.
Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who is scheduled to be at the event with Obama this morning, said the stricter standards will cut carbon pollution and reduce costs for consumers and truck owners.
“Setting the bar higher for trucks will further encourage innovation in the industry,” Beinecke said in a statement. “This is a win-win for the environment and the economy.”
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