President Obama Pushes Fuel Efficiency For Big Trucks

by Christopher DeMorro.

Originally published on Gas2.

America's Supertruck project aims to improve big rig fuel economy by 50% no later than 2016.
America’s Supertruck project aims to improve big rig fuel economy by 50% no later than 2016.

Medium and heavy-duty trucks account for 25% of all fuel use in America, and President Obama wants to improve their efficiency by an “ambitious” amount. But can Obama get it done before his presidency comes to a close?

In his most recent State of the Union address, Obama’s energy goals were fixated on natural gas and semi-truck fuel economy. This isn’t exactly new territory for the Obama administration, which has helped fund the Supertruck project that aims to improve big rig fuel economy by 50% by 2016.

So far the Supertruck has delivered some promising results, achieving an average fuel economy of nearly 10 MPG without any fancy drivetrains or alternative fuels.

Not that Obama isn’t pushing for those advances either. Testing on hybrid and CNG-powered semis is already under way on several different fronts, and natural gas maven T. Boone Pickens isn’t sitting quietly on the sidelines either.

Obama has delivered on the details though in a recent speech at a Safeway distribution center in Maryland, where he outlined several aspects of the proposed plan that gets trucks on clean street as early as 2016. The efficiency-improvement plan takes place in steps, and begins with the setting of new medium and heavy-duty fuel economy and emissions standards by March of 2016.

The administration is also going to push for more powertrain diversity among big rigs, from hybrids to CNG to more aerodynamic solutions. The goal is to cut fuel consumption, one of the single biggest expenditures owner-operators suffer on the open road. But don’t expect these standards to go into effect without a fight, as Obama also wants to end some $4 billion in oil and gas subsidies to major corporations, putting that money towards cellulosic ethanol and other biofuel research.

It’s a step in the right direction for Obama, but it could come a little too late in his presidency. By March of 2016, Obama will have less than a year left in office. While the trucking industry seems receptive to these ideas and ambitions, how will buyers react to the higher prices this new technology adds to their bottom line?

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This article, Obama Encourages Fuel Efficiency Improvement For Trucks, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Energy Policy. Chris DeMorroChristopher DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMI’s. When he isn’t wrenching or writing, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

SOTU speech supports SAFE energy program

SOTU Jan 27, 2014
SOTU Jan 27,2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

PRESS RELEASE January 28, 2014

White House Continues Support for an Energy Security Trust to Combat American Oil Dependence

Washington, D.C. – Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) applauds the White House’s continued commitment to improving American energy security and protecting our economy by linking supply and demand policies to combat our country’s oil dependence. The White House’s version of an Energy Security Trust Fund (ESTF) is again included in this year’s State of the Union’s broader set of proposed policies. President Obama continues to propose funding the Trust with $200 million annually in mandatory spending transferred directly from federal royalty revenue generated by oil and gas production.

As the author of a similar policy that inspired the President’s proposal, SAFE has proposed the establishment of an Energy Security Trust Fund that would use revenues from oil and gas development on federal lands and waters currently unavailable to the industry to pay for research and development (R&D) of technologies that have the potential to significantly displace oil in the transportation sector, such as improvements to electric vehicle batteries and compressed natural gas (CNG) storage tanks.

After topping $900 billion in 2012, American spending on petroleum fuels remains at near-record levels. Oil dependence continues to pose a severe threat to America’s economy and national security, tying our fate to the highly unpredictable, cartel-influence global oil market.

The Energy Security Trust Fund concept enjoys bipartisan support and is under active consideration on Capitol Hill. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has released a detailed energy policy blueprint endorsing an approach similar to SAFE’s.

SAFE is encouraged by continued support for the Energy Security Trust Fund and looks forward to the next steps in advancing American energy security.

Key facts about the Energy Security Trust Fund:

What is the Energy Security Trust Fund?

  • SAFE proposed the creation of an Energy Security Trust Fund (ESTF) in its National Strategy for Energy Security, which was released in December of 2012.
  • The fund creates a mechanism to harness revenues from expanded domestic energy production in order to invest in developing the transportation technologies and fuels of the future.
  • President Obama proposed the creation of a similar policy, an Energy Security Trust, in his 2013 State of the Union address and cited SAFE’s Energy Security Leadership Council as the source of his idea. Although the source of funding is different between SAFE and the President’s proposals, the use of oil revenues to fund breakthroughs in transportation is a common theme in both versions.

How would the Fund be seeded?

  • SAFE has proposed that the ESTF be seeded with revenues from oil and gas development on federal lands and waters that are currently unavailable to the industry, up to $500 million annually.
  • President Obama has proposed seeding the Fund from existing royalty streams, up to $200 million annually.
  • Neither proposal would pose any additional financial burden on oil companies.
  • The funding structure should be established as mandatory spending to provide consistent funding to accelerate breakthroughs in technologies that increase America’s energy security.

What should the Fund be used for?

  • The purpose of the fund would be to aggressively invest in research, development and demonstration (R&D) of advanced transportation technologies and fuels.
  • The Fund should be housed and administered by the Department of Energy, and projects will be funded through a competitive, peer-reviewed process.
  • The Fund would not provide direct funding for commercialization activities.
  • The 2011 “Quadrennial Technology Review” asserted that the “DOE is underinvested in the transportation sector, relative to the stationary sector…Yet, reliance on oil is the greatest immediate threat to U.S. economic and national security…”

What is the fiscal impact of the Fund?

  • SAFE’s proposal would not have any fiscal impact because revenues generated by new oil and gas drilling in areas not currently available to the industry are not in the budget.

Who supports the Energy Security Trust Fund?

  • The Washington Examiner endorsed SAFE’s proposal in November 2013: “SAFE has an energy proposal that merits bipartisan support.”
  • Senator Murkowski made a similar proposal in her “Vision 20/20” document and has solicited feedback on her draft legislation.
  • SAFE continues to work with both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate and believes that bipartisan and bicameral legislation will be introduced this year.

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Obama: Federal Government Has 7 Years To Triple Renewable Energy

Originally published on Climate Progress by Emily Atkin

When President Obama made his second State of the Union address, he talked extensively about the importance of addressing global climate change.

“For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.

I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.” — President Barack Obama

Image Credit: Obama in Charlotte, NC via Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com
Image Credit: Obama in Charlotte, NC via Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com

 

Obama now seems to be making good on those statements.

Thursday, the administration released an executive order directing the federal government to triple its use of renewable energy by 2020, which would bring the government’s renewable energy usage to 20 percent.

The order will apply to all federal agencies, including the military.

The Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the executive order before it was published,noted that the federal government itself occupies approximately 500,000 buildings and operates 600,000 vehicles, and purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services. The order does not disclose the cost of the transition, but says the goal will be reached “to the extent economically feasible and technically practicable.”

The top priority for federal agencies is installing agency-funded renewable energy on-site at federal facilities, and retaining renewable energy certificates, or RECs. An REC is a certificate that represents the environmental value of one megawatt-hour of electricity. In buying a REC, the government essentially pays a little bit of money in order to claim and keep track of the clean benefit of the electricity produced.

Obama has pledged to address climate change during his second term, and in a June speech detailed a three-tier plan for the administration.

That plan would cut carbon pollution in America, lead international efforts to cut global emissions, and prepare the U.S. for the costly impacts of climate change. President Obama framed the action as a moral obligation to do what we can for “the world we leave our children.”

“This is the global threat of our time.

And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late.

That is our job. That is our task. We have to get to work.” — President Obama said in June.

But once the President makes an official announcement of the executive order, he will likely face harsh opposition from fossil fuel-backed politicians who have historically opposed his attempts to mandate the use of more renewable energy.

After his June speech, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) — a coal insider who maintains an income of almost $2 million from a coal firm — compared the President’s rhetoric on climate change to a war on America.”

The military has already begun a transition to efficient and renewable energy, after the head of the U.S. Pacific Command cited climate change as “probably the most likely thing that is going to happen … that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.”

The Army is now proceeding with its “Net Zero Energy” initiative, which means that on some domestic bases, they will aim to produce as much energy, water, and waste as they consume. Cost and reliability are the primary reasons, but cutting carbon pollution will be one of the outcomes.

The executive order can be read in full here

This article, Obama: Federal Government Has 7 Years To Triple Renewable Energy, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.