WASHINGTON (AP) - Looking to a day when cars and trucks use far
less gasoline or none at all, President Barack Obama plans to order
the government to prepare fuel efficiency standards for many years
from now and renew its focus on electric-powered vehicles.
Obama is also asking federal agencies to extend a national
fuel-efficiency program to big rig and work trucks for the first
time, beginning in 2014.
Under a presidential memorandum Obama is expected to sign
Friday, agencies would develop fuel efficiency and emissions
standards for cars and light trucks beyond 2016.
Obama last month brought out new standards for cars and light
trucks for the 2012-2016 model years that aimed at reaching a fleet
average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, nearly 10 miles per
gallon more than now.
Now additional standards will be developed further into the
future, and heavy trucks would also be regulated, something
environmentalists have long sought. A White House official
previewed the announcement on condition of anonymity because it was
not yet public.
Obama is not expected to announce specific new mileage goals,
but rather initiate steps toward developing them without help from
Congress, and call for progress on next-generation and electric
For future consumers, it could mean cars and trucks that go much
farther on a tank of gas, though perhaps with a higher upfront
For the auto industry, uniform national standards are preferable
to a state-by-state approach that has been a threat ever since
California started pushing years ago to be allowed more stringent
standards than the federal government imposes.
California agreed last year not to adopt its own standards
Environmental groups, meanwhile, have wanted standards for
medium- and heavy-duty work trucks. The Union of Concerned
Scientists, an environmental advocacy group, said these large
trucks represent only 4 percent of all vehicles on U.S. highways
but consume more than 20 percent of on-road transportation fuels.