In the Rose Garden at the White House today, President Obama signed into law new fuel efficiency and emissions standards for medium and heavy duty trucks. The executive order mandates that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department develop new requirements for larger vehicles and extend and improve upon those for smaller vehicles. Though — as we recently reported — Congress now has a climate change bill in the works, the President decided to push these vehicle standards forward on the road towards a more energy-efficient tomorrow.
The President noted that he hoped that Congress would pass their climate and energy bill sometime this year, but that he thought he’d go ahead and get the process started. He told the crowd at the White House, “I intend to work with members of both parties to pass a bill this year. In the meantime,” he added, “I’m going to take every sensible, responsible action that I can take using my authority as president.” The executive order puts the task upon the EPA and the DOT to come up with strict fuel efficiency and emissions standards on large trucks that will go into effect in the 2014 model year. It also orders them to expound upon the emissions goals set last month for small cars and to create new goals for the 2017 model year.
The administration is hoping these standards, along with the bill in Congress will push auto manufacturers to pursue energy alternatives instead of just reducing the amount of fuel used by vehicles. President Obama made reference to the oil spill in the Gulf as a perfect reason to reduce our oil dependence: “the disaster in the Gulf only underscores that even as we pursue domestic production to reduce our reliance on imported oil, our long-term security depends on the development of alternative sources of fuel and new transportation technologies.” Though the order does not set specific standards it calls for an improvement on the current 3.7 miles per gallon that large trucks currently average. Let’s hope we can improve on that quickly, because if not, we’re probably doomed.