The President will formally present his plan this afternoon in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, but the White House has already issued a statement explaining the plan's key points.
The plan is based solely on executive actions the President can take without Congressional approval, as it is unlikely that Congress will pass a climate bill in the foreseeable future.
"This work will build on the successful first-term effort to develop greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for cars and trucks," the plan states, referring to the 54.5 mile per gallon fleet average standard the President has established for the year 2025.
Obama's new plan will again increase fuel economy standards - this time for heavy-duty trucks.
"Heavy-duty vehicles are currently the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation sector," the Obama plan states.
In 2011, the Obama Administration finalized the nation's first fuel economy standards for model year 2014-2018 for heavy-duty trucks, buses, and vans. These standards will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 270 million metric tons and save 530 million barrels of oil.
During the President’s second term, the Administration will again partner with industry leaders and other key stakeholders to develop post-2018 fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles.
The Obama Administration has already established the toughest fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in U.S. history. These standards require an average performance equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which will save the average driver more than $8,000 in fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicle and eliminate six billion metric tons of carbon pollution – more than the United States emits in a year.
In addition to fuel economy standards, the Obama Administration plans to focus on developing and deploying advanced transportation technologies, such as "next-generation biofuels."
"Biofuels have an important role to play in increasing our energy security, fostering rural economic development, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector," the plan states, adding, "That is why the Administration supports the Renewable Fuels Standard, and is investing in research and development to help bring next-generation biofuels on line."
As part of that effort, the U.S. Navy and Departments of Energy and Agriculture are working with the private sector to accelerate the development of cost-competitive advanced biofuels for use by the military and commercial sectors.
More broadly, the Administration will continue to leverage partnerships between the private and public sectors to deploy cleaner fuels, including advanced batteries and fuel cell technologies, in every transportation mode, the new plan states.
The new Department of Energy eGallon website informs drivers about electric car operating costs in their state. The national average is only $1.14 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, showing the promise for consumer pocketbooks of electric-powered vehicles. In addition, in the coming months, the Department of Transportation will work with other agencies to further explore strategies for integrating alternative fuel vessels into the U.S. flag fleet.
The Administration also will continue to work with states, cities and towns through the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the EPA to improve transportation options and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide, the plan promises.
In February 2013, federal agencies released Climate Change Adaptation Plans for the first time, outlining strategies to protect their operations, missions, and programs from the effects of climate change. The Department of Transportation, for example, is developing guidance for incorporating climate change and extreme weather event considerations into coastal highway projects.
As part of the President's plan, federal agencies will continue to provide "targeted support and assistance" to help communities prepare for climate impacts on transportation.
Throughout 2013, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration is working with 19 state and regional partners and other federal agencies to test approaches for assessing local transportation infrastructure vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather and for improving resilience.
In the spring of 2014, the Obama Administration will release the third U.S. National Climate Assessment, highlighting new advances in understanding climate change impacts across all regions of the United States and on critical sectors of the economy, including transportation.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2013. All rights reserved.
PHOTO: President Barack Obama steers a Chevrolet Volt around the White House driveway, January 2013 (Photo courtesy The White House)