President Obama on Tuesday directed federal agencies to develop higher fuel-efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016.
John Graham, dean of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, cited energy-security and environmental rationales for these standards.
“They reduce our oil consumption, which makes us less vulnerable to manipulation from the Middle East and from the unstable oil producers,” he said, “and they reduce greenhouse gases, which are linked to climate change.”
The standards will affect all vehicles weighing more than 8,500 pounds, from large pick-up trucks to 18-wheelers. According to the White House, the new rules would build on standards passed in 2011 that are already projected to save vehicle owners and operators $50 billion in fuel costs in the lifetimes of models built from 2014 to 2018.
Just a few years ago, it was estimated that heavy-duty vehicles make up only 4 percent of the transportation sector and yet account for about one-fourth of the road-fuel use and greenhouse-gas emissions from this sector. Graham predicted the new standards will have an impact on air quality in Indiana.
“These trucks are oftentimes in Northern Indiana,” he said. “They roll right across the northern border as they move east-west or west-east, and they’re a big part of the transportation system.”
Meanwhile, manufacturers are in the process of meeting requirements to expand fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks to slightly more than 54 miles per gallon by 2025.
Information about the new standards is online at whitehouse.gov.