Government Proposes Better Gas Mileage For Trucks

The Obama administration is proposing new rules that will require truck and bus manufacturers to improve fuel economy. Manufacturers may have to improve fuel efficiency by 20 percent over the next few years. The main opposition seems to be coming from environment groups that wanted tougher requirements.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

Okay, now as you're out driving this morning check out that truck or school bus up ahead of you. Under new rules expected today from the EPA and the Transportation Department, future models will have to emit less pollution and get better fuel mileage.

NPR's Ted Robbins reports.

TED ROBBINS: Big rigs and other heavy duty vehicles use more than 20 percent of the nation's transportation fuel. And not just because there are so many of them: the typical big truck is driven up to 150,000 miles a year but gets only about six to seven miles per gallon. They've never had a fuel-efficiency standard. So the Obama Administration is proposing one. It's also proposing that the trucks emit less pollution. So far, truck manufacturers seem to be on board, largely because it will save the industry money.

Therese Langer of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy doesn't see a downside to the rules.

Ms. THERESE LANGER (Director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy): This program is a crucial step in getting a handle on oil consumption and on greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector and at the same time getting a handle on fuel expenditures, which translate into the cost of consumer goods.

ROBBINS: The new rules call for a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and pollution through the use of advanced diesel engines, better tires, and more aerodynamic designs. Critics say the rules don't go far enough. A National Academy of Sciences study says those measures could realistically achieve a 35 percent reduction. The rules apply to 2014 through 2018 models.

Ted Robbins, NPR News.

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