WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama announced the first fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for long-haul rigs, work trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles Tuesday, the second mileage pact with manufacturers in less than a month.
The regulations call for cutting 9 percent to 23 percent of fuel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions by 2018, depending on the type of vehicle. Trucks and other heavy vehicles make up only 4 percent of the domestic vehicle fleet, but given the distance they travel, the time they spend idling and their low fuel efficiency, they end up consuming about 20 percent of all vehicle fuel, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Experts say that a 20 percent reduction in heavy-vehicle emissions would boost fuel efficiency to an average of 8 miles per gallon from 6 mpg now.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after Obama and the country’s automakers unveiled new fuel economy rules for passenger vehicles that would boost fleet-wide average gas mileage to 54.5 mpg by 2025, from about 27.8 mpg now.
The success of the Obama fuel-efficiency program, some of it hard-won through difficult talks with carmakers, stands in sharp contrast to the failure of other environmental initiatives such as climate change legislation.
At a time when nearly all major corporate lobbying groups and the Republican Party insist that the administration’s environmental regulations destroy jobs, the United Auto Workers union is collaborating with automakers and truck and large engine manufacturers on rules they say could create jobs. Most environmental groups also praised the new truck standards.
The automobile industry has been more cooperative with government since the federal bailout of two major carmakers, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. It is also mollified by the fact that the new, 2025 auto rules have what critics consider loopholes on popular models.