What Obama’s New Climate Action Plan Has in Store for Alternative Fuels

In a speech at Georgetown University on June 25, President Barack Obama unveiled a new plan meant to cut the nation's carbon pollution. And although the Climate Action Plan has a strong focus on power plant emissions and renewable energy, it also addresses the development of more fuel economy standards and the proliferation of alternative fuel vehicles.

Under the Climate Action Plan, the Obama administration will build on past successes by helping develop post-2018 fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles. Just last year, the administration finalized the first-ever fuel economy standards for such vehicles from model year 2014 to 2018. In addition, the administration has set new fuel economy standards for passenger cars, requiring 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

‘The fuel standards we set over the past few years mean that by the middle of the next decade, the cars and trucks we buy will go twice as far on a gallon of gas,’ Obama said during his speech. ‘That means you'll have to fill up half as often; we'll all reduce carbon pollution.’

Addressing the plan during the Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo on Wednesday morning, Christopher Grundler – director of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality – said bringing stakeholders from both industry and government together to conceive the first set of standards is largely responsible for their success to date.

‘Everyone embraced these standards, because we worked collaboratively,’ he said.

The plan also focuses on the need to develop cleaner fuels, noting that the Obama administration is a strong supporter of the Renewable Fuels Standard and will continue investing in the development of next-gen biofuels, advanced batteries and fuel cell technologies.

‘We're very bullish on biofuels,’ added Dan Utech, the White House's deputy director for energy and climate change. ‘The administration understands that clean transportation technologies are essential.’

When specifically mentioning natural gas, the plan focuses mainly on power plants, but the transportation sector was not left out.

‘Going forward, we will promote fuel-switching from coal to gas for electricity production and encourage the development of a global market for gas,’ the plan says. ‘Since heavy-duty vehicles are expected to account for 40 percent of increased oil use through 2030, we will encourage the adoption of heavy-duty natural gas vehicles as well.’

In addition, the plan says the U.S. Department of Transportation will partner with other agencies within the next few months to develop a strategy to integrate alternative fuel vehicles into the U.S. fleet.

The entire Climate Action Plan is available HERE.

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