UPPER MARLBORO, Md., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The next phase of tighter fuel standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles is in the works, U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday.
"Today, we're taking the next step. Heavy-duty trucks account for just 4 percent of all the vehicles on the highway ... [but] they're responsible for about 20 percent of carbon pollution in the transportation sector," Obama said during a speech at a distribution center for the grocery store chain Safeway in Upper Marlboro, Md. "And because they haul about 70 percent of all domestic freight ... every mile that we gain in fuel efficiency is worth thousands of dollars in savings every year."
Indicating a truck behind him, Obama said a partnership between his administration and business resulted in the truck achieving "a 75 percent improvement in fuel economy over the last year. 75 percent. That's why I call this 'super truck.' It's impressive."
Obama said he ordered Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop and issue new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 31, 2016.
A fact sheet released by the White House said the second round of fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (model years 2014-2018) will save owners and operators an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs and save a projected 530 million barrels of oil.
"The goal we are setting is ambitious," Obama said. "But these are areas where ambition has worked out really well for us so far."
Obama also spoke of his previously issued standards to double fuel efficiency in light vehicles and trucks by 2025.
"That's big news," he said. "Because what it means is, you've got to fill up every two weeks instead of one week, and that saves the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump over time" while reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil.
Business buying fuel efficient medium- and heavy-duty trucks also send a signal to those who build them, Obama said: "We want trucks that use less oil, save more money, cut pollution."
He said 23 companies have joined the national Clean Fleets partnership to reduce oil consumption or replace their old fleets of trucks with more fuel-efficient vehicles. Collectively, he said, the companies operate about 1 million commercial vehicles nationwide.
"Every time somebody says you can't grow the economy while bringing down pollution, it's turned out they've been wrong," Obama said. "Anybody who says we can't compete when it comes to clean energy technologies ... they've had to eat those words."
"You can't bet against American workers or American industry," the president said. "You can't bet against America, otherwise you're gonna lose money every time because we know how to do this when we set broad ambitious goals for ourselves."