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posted: 2/19/2014 1:00 AM

Obama to talk up benefits of fuel-efficient trucks

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  • President Barack Obama says having a more fuel-efficient truck fleet will boost the economy and help combat climate change.

      President Barack Obama says having a more fuel-efficient truck fleet will boost the economy and help combat climate change.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says having a more fuel-efficient truck fleet will boost the economy and help combat climate change.

Obama on Tuesday was to visit a Washington-area distribution center for Safeway stores to announce the newest steps he plans to take on his own to bolster the economy when he thinks Congress isn't doing its job. He returned late Monday from a three-day golf getaway in Southern California.

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The actions Obama is taking could have the double benefit of improving the environment by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming.

Much of what Obama was announcing has already been made public, including by the president himself.

Obama was expected to say that he's directing the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department to issue a new round of fuel-efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016. Tighter fuel-efficiency standards were in the climate change plan he announced last June.

The new round of fuel-efficiency standards would follow similar rules that have been finalized for the 2014-18 model years of that category of vehicles.

Under those standards, vehicle owners and operators stand to save $50 billion in fuel costs and use 530 million fewer barrels of oil, according to a White House fact sheet. Reduced fuel consumption from more fuel-efficient vehicles also means a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases that are blamed for the gradual rise in the Earth's temperature.

Obama also was expected to announce that he's ordering the Energy Department to provide companies that want to join an existing public-private partnership that was created to help speed up the introduction of clean, energy-efficient vehicles with specialized resources and the technical expertise they need to increase fuel efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.

In addition, Obama was to renew his call for Congress to end billions of dollars in federal subsidies to oil and natural gas companies. Congress has rejected the president's previous calls for lawmakers to take this step and there was little reason to believe that this time around would be any different.

Obama wants some of that money to be put into a new fund to pay for research and development into advanced vehicle technologies, to pay for a new tax credit to support investment in advanced vehicles and infrastructure, and to extend existing tax credits that support research into cellulosic biofuels.

Obama's announcement was set for Safeway because the company has invested in cleaner, more efficient trucks with improved aerodynamics, better tires and larger-capacity trailers.

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