A Safeway (NYSE: SWY) distribution center in Maryland welcomed President Barack Obama on Tuesday where he called for the next phase of tighter fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles. The president chose to make his announcement at Safeway as a pat on the back to the company for its commitment to operating more fuel-efficient trucks.
Obama has called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop and issue new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 31, 2016. Safeway has been a participant in the EPA SmartWay Transport Program as both a carrier and shipping partner. This partnership helps Safeway transport goods while emitting less carbon pollution. Safeway said that as of 2013, 99.9 percent of the truckloads that made deliveries or pick-ups at its distribution centers were SmartWay Transport carriers who have implemented technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to reducing pollution, Safeway's new standards allow the grocery retailer to improve fuel economy. Since 2006, Safeway increased its ton miles per gallon (the amount of fuel needed to transport one ton of material one mile) by nearly 28 percent. Obama noted in his remarks that if more retail companies were to abide by new fuel standards, the improved fuel economy could help companies pass along those savings to consumers.
"Improving gas mileage for these trucks is going to drive down our oil imports even further," Obama said. "That reduces carbon pollution even more, cuts down on businesses' fuel costs, which should pay off in lower prices for consumers. So it's not just a win-win, it's a win-win-win. We got three wins."
During his speech at Safeway's distribution center, Obama said that heavy-duty trucks account for just 4 percent of all vehicles on U.S. highways but generate 20 percent of the carbon pollution produced by the transportation sector. He is proposing new regulations to be drafted by the EPA and the Transportation Department by March 2015. The goal is to enforce new standards that will cut back on greenhouse gases and carbon emissions and will combine with previous rules requiring passenger cars and light trucks to burn fuel more efficiently.
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