From Sunlen Miller:
Using the disaster in the Gulf as an example, the president said that even while the nation pursues domestic production to reduce the nation’s reliance on imported oil, alternative sources of fuel and new transportation technologies are needed.
To that end, the president signed a Presidential Memorandum today ordering federal agencies to develop mileage and emissions standards to improve “fuel efficiency and reduce harmful emissions” for big rigs and work trucks for the first time, starting with model year 2014.
“This is going to bring down the cost for transportating — for transporting goods, serving businesses and consumers alike. It will reduce pollution, given that freight vehicles produce roughly one- fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation,” Mr. Obama said from the Rose Garden today.
The directive also aims to bring together public and private sectors to develop infrastructure necessary for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.
“I believe that it’s possible in the next 20 years for vehicles to use half the fuel and produce half the pollution that they do today,” Obama said, “But that’s only going to happen if we are willing to do what’s necessary for the sake of our economy, our security and our environment.”
Mr. Obama’s announcement today comes one-year after he first announced national fuel efficiency and auto emission standards. Today he touted that progress has been made.
“One year later, we’re beginning to see results. Instead of fighting higher standards, auto manufacturers are engaged in a race to meet them. And over the next five years, we expect fuel efficiency standards in cars and light trucks to reach an average of 35.5 miles per gallon.”
The end result, the president said, is that “everyone wins.”
“The typical driver will save roughly $3,000 over the life of the vehicle, we’ll reduce our dependence on oil by 1.8 billion barrels, and cut nearly a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This is the equivalent of taking 50 million cars off the road — lowering pollution while making our economy more secure.”
Speaking to an audience of industry leaders, environmentalist, and members of congress the president touted the overall importance of climate change legislation, and gave a deadline for when he’d like this to happen: this year.
“I’m heartened by the good work that’s been done by Senator Kerry and Lieberman on a comprehensive energy and climate bill to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, to prevent the worse consequences of climate change, and foster the millions of new jobs that are possible if we rise to this challenge. And this follows the passage of comprehensive legislation through the House last June. So as I’ve said before, I intend to work with members of both parties to pass a bill this year.”
As the president shook hands with members of the audience the president, presumably talking about the oil spill in the Gulf said, “we’ve just got to plug that hole,”
A man in the audience replied back. “You need a little Dutch boy.”
The president shook his head, paused and said, “don’t even get me started.”