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White House Announces New Fuel Efficiency Standards For Trucks, Buses


The Obama administration has adopted tough new fuel efficiency rules for large trucks. Manufacturers will have to reduce carbon emissions from big rigs, tractors, garbage trucks and buses. From member station WHYY in Philadelphia, Susan Phillips reports.

SUSAN PHILLIPS, BYLINE: The new rules are part of the president's final efforts to tackle climate change. Speaking to reporters about the move, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said there's a lot at stake.

GINA MCCARTHY: 2016 is on pace to be the hottest year ever recorded by a significant margin. Average temperatures and sea levels keep rising. Coastal flooding's getting worse, and Arctic sea ice is melting at alarming rates.

PHILLIPS: And more and more big trucks are barreling down the highway, carrying everything from new cars to refrigerators to new clothes ordered online, making trucks the fastest-growing source of transportation greenhouse gas emissions. Environmentalists praise the move. Phyllis Cuttino is director of the Clean Energy Initiative at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

PHYLLIS CUTTINO: I think it's a win for industry because it's going to save industry money, and it's a win for consumers because costs will increase at a slower pace. And it's a win for the environment because you're reducing pollution.

PHILLIPS: Industry has been largely supportive. Glen Kedzie from the American Trucking Associations is cautiously optimistic.

GLEN KEDZIE: We're hopeful that things will work out, that there will be a return on our investment within the period of time that they state, that the technologies will not create any undue maintenance issues that we didn't foresee.

PHILLIPS: The new rules will apply to vehicle model years through 2027. For NPR News, I'm Susan Phillips in Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Susan Phillips tells stories about the consequences of political decisions on people's every day lives. She has worked as a reporter for WHYY since 2004. Susan's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election resulted in a story on the front page of the New York Times. In 2010 she traveled to Haiti to cover the earthquake. That same year she produced an award-winning series on Pennsylvania's natural gas rush called "The Shale Game." Along with her reporting partner Scott Detrow, she won the 2013 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Journalism Award for her work covering natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. She has also won several Edward R. Murrow awards for her work with StateImpact. She recently returned from a year as at MIT as a Knight Science Journalism Fellow. A graduate of Columbia School of Journalism, she earned her Bachelor's degree in International Relations from George Washington University.