President: “I intend to work with members of both parties to pass a [climate] bill this year.”
Today Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the EPA and Department of Transportation to reduce U.S. oil use and greenhouse gas pollution by developing more efficient fuel economy standards.
The President directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a first-ever National Policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium- and heavy-duty trucks for Model Years 2014-2018. Currently trucks consume more than two million barrels of oil every day, and average 6.1 miles per gallon. They also emit 20% of greenhouse gas pollution related to transportation.
The President also called for an extension of the National Program for cars and light-duty trucks to Model Year 2017 and beyond.
Additionally, President Obama directed the Department of Energy to provide increased support for deployment of advanced vehicles, including electric vehicles, and directed EPA to reduce non-greenhouse-gas pollutants from motor vehicles.
These first-ever greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for medium and heavy trucks are essential since these vehicles burn one in 10 barrels of oil used in the U.S.
These new fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards are even more important in the wake of the BP oil disaster. It is but one symptom of our oil dependence. Our national security is also at risk since one out of every five barrels of oil consumed in the U.S. comes from countries that are ‘dangerous or unstable’ according to the State Department.
Sating our hunger for oil will require many reforms. They include President Obama’s proposals today for even more fuel efficient cars, and the first improvements in fuel economy for trucks. In addition, we need incentives for the purchase of natural gas powered trucks and buses that could save more than 1 million barrels of oil daily. Investments in public transportation would yield additional savings.
Importantly, President Obama also reiterated his support for action comprehensive clean energy and global warming reductions this year. He said:
Today’s announcement is an essential part of our energy strategy. But it’s not a substitute for other necessary steps to ensure our leadership in a new clean energy economy. I’m heartened by the good work that’s been done by Senator Kerry and Lieberman on a comprehensive energy and climate bill to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, to prevent the worst consequences of climate change, and foster the millions of new jobs that are possible if we rise to this challenge. And this follows the passage of comprehensive legislation through the House last June.
So as I’ve said before, I intend to work with members of both parties to pass a bill this year.
As President Obama noted, the Senate must play its part by passing additional oil independence measures such as those in the American Power Act. A Senate bill combined with President Obama’s new proposal can convert oil reductions from gallons of oil to barrels of oil.
JR: Obama also discussed the benefits of his recently finalized auto efficiency rules:
“The typical driver will save roughly $3,000 over the life of the vehicle, we’ll reduce our dependence on oil by 1.8 billion barrels, and cut nearly a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This is the equivalent of taking 50 million cars off the road — lowering pollution while making our economy more secure.”
Today’s guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress.
This post has been updated.