President Obama on Tuesday announced new executive actions to develop higher fuel efficiency standards for medium-and heavy-duty trucks, calling his latest unilateral push a “win-win-win” for jobs, consumers and the environment.
Traveling to Prince George's County, Md., just a few miles from the White House, Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department to develop strict greenhouse gas standards that would go into effect in March 2016 for such vehicles.
“Don't make small plans; make big plans,” Obama said at a Safeway distribution center, calling the blueprint an “ambitious” way to limit oil imports and protect the environment.
Conservatives, however, counter that Obama’s latest effort is just another example of the White House sidestepping Congress to enact the president’s agenda.
The president has ramped up his focus on climate change, traveling to California last week to link the state's historic drought to global warming and push for the creation of a $1 billion fund devoted to studying volatile weather conditions.
According to the White House, heavy-duty trucks account for just 4 percent of all vehicles on the road but more than 20 percent of fuel use and carbon emissions.
In his State of the Union address, Obama pledged to expand on previous plans to improve fuel efficiency standards for lighter vehicles.
Obama made repeated attempts Tuesday to convince skeptics that his green-technology push did not harm the economy.
“The American auto industry sold more cars last year than any time since 2007,” he said.
Obama insisted that such policies allowed American families to spend less on gas at a time when the cost of oil remains sky-high.
The president also pushed a $200 million tax credit for companies that invest in green technologies and an extension of subsidies for businesses developing new biofuels.
“We’re taking the next step,” Obama said. “We want trucks that use less oil, save money, cut pollution.”