Skip to main content

See also:

NRDC responds to President’s fuel efficiency standards

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on improving the fuel efficiency of American trucks, at the Safeway Distribution Center in Maryland on Feb. 18, 2014.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on improving the fuel efficiency of American trucks, at the Safeway Distribution Center in Maryland on Feb. 18, 2014.
White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon

President Obama’s recently announced fuel-efficiency standards for heavy trucks will help such vehicles go farther on less fuel and further curb carbon pollution from America’s transportation sector, the largest source of carbon pollution after power plants. On February 18, President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency and the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop and issue the next phase of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 2016. Under this timeline, the agencies are expected to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by March 2015. This round of fuel efficiency standards will continue to shape the first-ever standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (model years 2014 through 2018 and will save vehicle owners and operators an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs and save a projected 530 million barrels of oil. For example, an operator of a new 2018 semi truck could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year and realize a net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over the truck’s useful life.

Increasing the efficiency of medium-and heavy-duty vehicles is a key factor of the President’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon emissions. Heavy-duty vehicles represent a major opportunity to cut transportation oil use and carbon contamination. In 2010, while heavy-duty vehicles represented just four percent of registered vehicles on the road in the United States, they accounted for roughly 25 percent of on-road fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. They are the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation sector (passenger cars and light trucks remain the largest source).

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), responded saying, “The president’s initiative is an important step driving America toward a cleaner energy future. 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. Just as clean car standards are revitalizing the American auto industry, which added more than 370,000 jobs, setting the bar higher for trucks will further encourage innovation in the industry. This is a win-win for the environment and the economy.”

The NRDC is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, their lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, and Beijing.