WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is moving ahead with plans to set new fuel efficiency standards for trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles as part of an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
During a visit to a grocery store distribution center, President Obama will order the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department to develop and issue the new standards by March 2016, according to a White House official who would not be named when discussing the announcement ahead of the event.
The new fuel efficiency requirements will mark the second phase of the effort to reduce the harmful pollutants by targeting trucks.
In 2011, the Obama administration completed fuel standards for medium and heavy vehicles. Those regulations call for a 20% reduction in heavy-vehicle emissions by 2018 and applied only to truck models 2014 through 2018. Experts estimate car manufactures would need to boost fuel efficiency to an average of 8 miles per gallon to reach the new standards, up from 6 miles per gallon at the time of the announcement.
The next round of regulations, which the president already announced in his Climate Action Plan last summer, will set standard for models beyond 2018, as well as semi-trailers.
Heavy-duty trucks are the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on the road, behind passenger cars, the White House said.
The White House and advocates contend that the new standards will save drivers money and fuel. The 2011 regulations are projected to save 530 million barrels of oil and reduce emissions by approximately 270 million metric tons, according to the White House, which calculates an estimated savings of $50 billion in reduced fuel costs over the lifetimes of the vehicles covered.
Obama will announce the new timeline for the second phase in a visit to a Safeway facility in Upper Marlboro, Md. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company participates in a public-private partnership aimed at improving the efficiency of its fleet by investing in new trucks, more efficient tires and larger-capacity trailers.
Obama also will announce plans to ask Congress to create a $2-billion energy security trust fund to support research and development of more fuel-efficient vehicles. The president made a similar request last year but was rebuffed by Congress. Obama will also call on lawmakers to pass a new tax credit aimed at spurring investment in new-vehicle technology and to extend a tax credit for biofuel producers that expired in December.