Feds approve higher fuel-efficiency standards for trucks

WASHINGTON - Moving to combat global warming, the U.S. government wants big trucks and other large vehicles rumbling down the highway to consume less fuel.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department said Tuesday that they are adopting previously announced standards to make large trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles more fuel efficient.

These vehicles account for more than one-fifth of transportation-related fuel consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases that are blamed for harming the environment.

"The actions we take today on climate change will help lessen the impacts on future generations," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement. "This next phase of standards for heavy and medium duty vehicles will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while driving innovation, and will ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in developing fuel efficient technologies through the next decade and beyond."

The Obama administration says the standards will cut carbon pollution, save vehicle owners billions of dollars in fuel costs and conserve tens of billions of gallons of oil.

The standards require up to 25 percent lower carbon emissions and fuel consumption for certain tractors.

Heavy duty pickups and vans would have to become 2.5 percent more efficient annually between model years 2021 and 2027.

An earlier round of fuel-efficiency standards applied to vehicle model years 2014-2018. The standards being adopted Tuesday apply through 2027.

The administration says it will also spend nearly $140 million to help develop technologies to make these vehicles more fuel efficient.

Jack Gillis, director of public affairs at the Consumer Federation of America, thinks the new fuel standards also could save people money, noting that Americans effectively pick up the cost of inefficient transportation.

The advocacy group estimates that average U.S. household spends roughly $1,100 a year on indirect freight truck fuel costs that are passed on to consumer. That amounts to what the average family spends on electricity each year.