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Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

Hey, over here! Obama’s fuel efficiency sideshow

| February 26, 2014

President Obama glibly referred to the new fuel standards he recently called for as a “win-win-win.” That’s reducing oil imports, pollution and fuel costs.

The cost-saving element is what appeals the most and, for those in trucking, raises eyebrows. Truck buyers have grown weary of round after round of emissions standards, each adding thousands of dollars and extra maintenance costs to every new truck. 

highway congestion

Adequate highway funding would yield “significant improvements in fuel burn and productivity,” wrote Werner’s Derek Leathers.

It’s easy to set a miles-per-gallon goal and conjure up a huge windfall. What got little emphasis from the administration’s side was the cost of meeting that goal.

A Consumer Federation of America study that informed this initiative assumes many solutions ripe for the picking. It asks: “Why don’t market forces drive these technologies into the vehicles?”

The attempted answer involves a ponderous discussion of “externalities” that influence manufacturers, such as “lack of credible information.” This is illustrated by an equally ponderous diagram: “Interaction of supply and demand side factors in a recursive loop inhibiting investment in efficiency.”

All of which seems to say: The private sector is a hopeless victim of this cruel loop that inhibits technology investments, so the omniscient government must come to the rescue.

Finally, after giving no specifics on technology costs, the study concludes: “The energy saving technologies will be more than be recouped in lower fuel costs.”

How can they tell? Well, they just … know.

What they really do know, and downplay, is how much fuel efficiency and emissions have improved over the last decade or two. Also downplayed is that the industry has no shortage of incentives to keep improving fuel efficiency, as long as the answers make financial and operational sense.

Yes, government mandates can forcibly accelerate results, and they were necessary to achieve today’s emissions levels. But the wisdom of a mandated rush to achieve an arbitrary miles-per-gallon target is another thing.

There’s much more to be gained regarding fuel use and emissions by improving our crumbling, cramped infrastructure, as Werner Enterprises President Derek Leathers said in response to the Obama announcement. Adequate highway funding would yield “significant improvements in fuel burn and productivity,” he wrote.

The American Highway Users Alliance has documented that  “congestion wastes billions of gallons of fuel each year and creates pollution hotspots at highway bottlenecks.” Billions is no exaggeration. Bringing infrastructure up to snuff would achieve not only Obama’s trifecta, but also take care of a problem that can’t be procrastinated indefinitely.

After more than five years in office, the president finally announced today an ambitious $302 billion transportation infrastructure plan. I hope he has the tenacity to stick with it. The politics are extraordinarily complex, even by D.C. standards, given that responsibilities for funding, building and maintaining highways overlap between the feds and states, and even municipalities. Plus the big increase in private funding of roads, sometimes controversial, has further muddied the waters.

Nevertheless, the responsibility for overseeing essential, publicly shared resources comes with the job description of president. He doesn’t need to dodge it, diverting the public’s attention by endlessly micro-managing a private energy sector that’s on the right track.





  • myron

    so sic of these guy throwing noodles at wall then making some one else make them stick. 9 mpg? where’s this? hauling ltl at sea level?

  • douglasmorton

    Sure is funny in a bad way that even thirty years ago I was usually getting 6 mpg with a Cummin’s 350 or 400 before all this politically correct garbage started. But then that was at night and before all the new rules on hours. Our corrupt government makes rules and regulations without a worry, because they don’t have to obey anything that happens in real life

  • jim stewart

    I’m so glad that I don’t own anything newer than a 1884 model. The truck I’m purchasing now is a 1972. It’s a true rat rod but any day now I will remove the rest of those rats, the wasp and replace the interior. I know that I will update that old outdated small cam 335 with a later big cam III and when I’m all done I may just install a brand new on board electronic speedometer. I don’t know how Obama feels about sending me one of those “green grants” but that’s about as much retrofitting as I ever plan on doing!

  • haller

    Any stupid moron can drive a truck.. As you know all truck drivers are dumb and should be treated as such.. What if——the next president of the USA has a CDL!!!!

  • Mike Smith

    If Obama wants to cut dn on fuel used & carbon he must start by stopping the Mexican Invasion. Gov & media tries to say there are only 10-12 million illegal aliens in OUR country. I believe this to be a flat out lie. Just look at So Cal, almost all Mexicans etc.. Not only is the illegal alien/INVADING FORCE here, but they are have 6 kids, for free to them, and at great expense to us. Five million couples have been & are producing 60 million spawn.

  • alamo

    Mr. President can you sign legislation forcing my truck to get 20.2 MPG please, I need a competitive advantage over other truckers, also can I please have free or low cost healthcare ( let someone else pay for it for me). One more thing can you do away with Photo ID drivers license , it is discriminatory.! Thanks me and several million other cool aid drinkers will vote for you over and over, and over again.

  • David S. McQueen

    Since the last amnesty (1986), using the 10 – 12 million figure would mean about 357,000 – 428,000 people are entering or overstaying their visa in the USA illegally every year. And the leftists want to re-do the 1986 amnesty. There are probably at least twice as many illegals in the USA now, but the left has to lie about it. Their focus groups have shown that the 10 – 12 million figure was “acceptable” to most folks.

  • David S. McQueen

    I think they already have. Anyway, voting is so 20th century. We have the best prez EVER, so why bother to have those inconvenient votes? Just let Lord Obama stay in office as long as he wants.

  • David S. McQueen

    When Lord Obama decrees anything, it will magically happen. Free health care? Sure. A wave of the presidential wand and, voila, free health care (as long as you belong to a union or work in DC).

  • douglasmorton

    Why doesn’t this village idiot go back to Africa now? During his administration he has not fulfilled his lies, he has turn America into a third world country by giving billions a month to other countries each month, this doesn’t take into account the billions spent on the military deaths and wars. Leave now before America is back in the stone age. My truck thirty years ago go 6 mpg and was easy to rebuild. Thanks politicians.

  • haller

    Hey Derek, from Werner, Take a hike,, Your a BS artist if there ever was one. When I think of werner freight I think of working my ass off for peanuts…….

  • haller

    I sure like that word you said,, united we stand, divided we fall…UNION,, Teamsters!!
    Right on..

  • haller

    You must be talking about the bush family, THE DYNASTY. George bought 100,000 acres of land in Paraguay, 10 miles from a closed USA air base. Why would the RICH do that???????

  • haller

    So Max Heine is a member of the republican party!!

  • BrunoK

    At what point do we the people demand the Surgeon General require a WARNING LABEL be attached to all Democrat politicians along with their Establishment Right enablers?

  • jrpsr1

    Mabe if Moron’s drive trucks yu can explain what is between the wheel of a car or pickup? We don’t lane surf, write essays,eat breakfast or endless other things I don’t have the time to explain for people that have no respect for others regardless of what they do for a living.

    “Attract what you expect,

    Reflect what you desire,

    Become what you respect,

    Mirror what you admire.”

  • Guest

    I fail to understand why any truck owner would complain about better fuel milage as long as it is affordable, has longevity, actually works, and cleans the air we believe. It’s unfortunate many on this comment are fuul of fear, and preach fear, because of ignorance.

  • localnet

    You want fuel efficiency, pull all of this emission crap off our motors! strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.