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  • White House is putting fuel-hungry big rigs on a diet STEVE EVERLY, The Kansas City Star

    Those semi trucks that trans­port freight across the country while gulp­ing a gallon of fu­el ev­ery six miles are go­ing on a diet under new fu­el econ­o­my standards an­nounced Tuesday by Pres­ident Barack Obama. The new rules — the first ef­ficiency standards for those types of vehicles — require a boost of up to 20 per­cent in fu­el econ­o­my and reduced green­house gas emis­sions by the 2018 model year for heavy- and medium-duty trucks such as concrete mixers and semis, garbage and de­liv­ery trucks. Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans not covered by oth­er fu­el ef­ficiency rules will also have to sip less fu­el. The standards take ef­fect with the 2014 model year. The White House projected savings of 530 million barrels of oil and $50 billion in fu­el costs saved over the expected lives of the vehicles, along with reduced pollution. The new rules fol­low last month’s an­nounce­ment about cars and light trucks that are to dou­ble their overall fu­el econ­o­my to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, starting in model year 2017. A 2009 deal already has cars and trucks on track to av­erage 35.5 mpg by model year 2016. “While we were working to improve the ef­ficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, some­thing inter­est­ing hap­pened,” Obama said Tuesday. “We started getting letters ask­ing that we do the same for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.” The deal to improve truck ef­ficiency was support­ed by envi­ron­mental­ists, truck manufac­turers and part of the trucking indus­try. The Union of Concerned Sci­entists said the standards would cover truck cat­egories that rep­resented only 4 per­cent of vehicles on the road but accounted for 20 per­cent of national fu­el use. Combined with pas­sen­ger vehicle standards, by 2030 the United States will save more oil than it currently imports from the Persian Gulf. pay. He said it was hard to see how rules eventually requiring the pur­chase of a new truck would help him. “This is one of those far-off fu­ture things,” he said. “I’m far more concerned about the present than I am of the fu­ture.” Joe Rajkovacz, di­rector of reg­ulatory affairs for the Owner-Op­erator Independent Drivers As­sociation in Grain Valley, which has 151,000 members, said fed­eral of­ficials dismissed its rec­ommendation for improved driv­er train­ing, including the prop­er shifting of a truck’s transmis­sion. Such steps would have reaped as much savings as the new fu­el standards, Rajkovacz said.. He said the standards would increase the price of a truck by $6,500, driv­ing up the costs for small busi­nesses that op­erate most of the country’s trucking busi­nesses. Making the sit­uation worse for the small­er op­erator, he said, is a fed­eral program called SmartWay. The program mainly helps large trucking compa­nies become more fu­el ef­ficient. “The new rule is just an­oth­er example of big-mon­eyed inter­ests working with govern­ment to pro­tect their own bottom line,” said Rajkovacz. The White House said that the added cost of a semi truck should be recovered in a year, and net savings over a truck’s life should be $73,000.
    New standards
    The new standard will af­fect three cat­egories of trucks differ­ently:
    • The big rigs or semi trucks will need to achieve about a 20 per­cent reduction in fu­el consumption and green­house gas emis­sions by model year 2018.
    • Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans have sep­a­rate standards for gaso­line-powered and diesel trucks. Generally, these vehicles will be required to achieve up to about 15 per­cent reduction in fu­el consumption and green­house gas emis­sions by model year 2018.
    • Vocational vehicles, including de­liv­ery trucks, buses and garbage trucks, will be required to reduce fu­el consumption and emis­sions by about 10 per­cent by model year 2018.