If you’ve been wondering when stricter standards would be placed on long-haul, heavy-duty vehicles traveling the nation’s highways, rest assured the day has finally come. Today, President Obama met with industry officials to announce the first fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles. The new program is anticipated to save businesses that employ these vehicles approximately $50 billion in fuel costs, and over 500 million barrels of oil over the life of the program.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the standards, which take into consideration issues that concerned industry officials and other stakeholders. The cost savings for American businesses will add to the $1.7 trillion that American families will save at the pump from the historic fuel-efficiency standards announced by the Obama Administration for cars and light duty trucks, including the model year 2017-2025 agreement unveiled last month.

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” said President Obama. “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks. They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks. And today, I’m proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium-and heavy-duty trucks.”

“Thanks to the Obama Administration, for the first time in our history we have a common goal for increasing the fuel efficiency of the trucks that deliver our products, the vehicles we use at work, and the buses our children ride to school,” said DOT Secretary LaHood. “These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector, and promote energy independence for America.”

“This administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe and cutting carbon pollution – and programs like these ensure that we can serve those priorities while also reducing our dependence on imported oil and saving money for drivers,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson of the new initiatives.

The program will include a range of targets that specifically address a diverse range of vehicle types and purposes in three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (like transit buses and refuse trucks). Each vehicle in these categories will follow more specific targets based on their design and purpose. This flexible structure allows serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals in the long-term.

The standards are expected to reap an estimated $50 billion in net benefits over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles. They will also result in significant long-terms savings for vehicle owners and operators and reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons.

We also can’t forget to account for the positive impact the program will have on pushing cleaner vehicles to the forefront, and the priceless benefits to general human health that would otherwise have suffered due in part to high auto emissions.