The first-ever fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks were released by the White House Tuesday after President Obama canceled a public announcement.
The administration said the standards would save U.S. businesses that operate and own these commercial vehicles about $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program, the White House said in a release.
Obama was scheduled to visit Interstate Moving Services in Virginia but canceled the trip so he could travel to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be present when the bodies of 30 U.S. troops killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan were returned.
Instead, Obama met with industry officials at the White House to discuss the fuel efficiency standards for work trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles.
The savings to businesses through this program are in addition to the $1.7 trillion the administration said families would save from fuel-efficiency standards announced for cars and light duty trucks, including the model year 2017-2025 agreement announced by the president in July.
"While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened," Obama said Tuesday. "We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks. They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks. And today, I'm proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium- and heavy-duty trucks."
Under the new program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons. Vehicles are divided into three categories: combination tractors such as semi-trucks, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles such as transit buses and refuse trucks.
By 2018, the standards are expected to cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20 percent for big rigs and semis, 15 percent for heavy-duty pickups and 10 percent for vehicles such as school buses and garbage trucks.
"Thanks to the Obama administration, for the first time in our history we have a common goal for increasing the fuel efficiency of the trucks that deliver our products, the vehicles we use at work, and the buses our children ride to school," Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood said. "These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector and promote energy independence for America."
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said more efficient heavy vehicles on the road "will allow us to breathe cleaner air and use less oil, providing a wide range of benefits to our health, our environment and our economy."