President Barack Obama will announce plans to develop tighter fuel standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks during a visit to Maryland Tuesday, the latest in the president’s ongoing campaign to combat global warming.
Obama was expected to say he’s instructing the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency to develop the new standards by March 2016. The rules would apply to new vehicles after 2018, according to a fact sheet distributed by the White House.
It is a plan he first mentioned during his State of the Union address Jan. 28, promising to set "new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.”
Environmental groups applauded the planned new standards.
“The president’s initiative is an important step driving America toward a cleaner energy future,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement. “Strong heavy truck efficiency standards will not only cut carbon pollution that fuels climate change, but also save consumers money every time they go to a store and save truckers money at the pump.”
The new rules will build on tighter fuel standards the administration introduced for trucks in model years 2014-18, and also on stricter standards for new cars and light trucks that took effect in 2012 and required manufacturers to roughly double their vehicles’ fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
The expected announcement comes as part of Obama’s wider initiative to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Last summer, he unveiled a Climate Action Plan calling for tighter emissions standards, and in his State of the Union address last month, he pledged to use executive power if Congress failed to act.
He has already directed the EPA to develop new regulations for coal power plants, and, during a visit to drought-stricken California last week, unveiled plans for a $1 billion “Climate Resilience Fund” in his 2015 budget.
"Unless and until we do more to combat carbon pollution that causes climate change,” Obama said during an address in California Friday, “this trend is going to get worse."
Many Republicans have scoffed at the science behind climate change and argue greater EPA regulation hurts the economy.