Never Mind: Obama Decides No Public Announcement on New Regulations

August 9, 2011 - 10:11 AM

APTOPIX Obama

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Update: Press reports say President Obama scrapped his visit to a Virginia trucking company Tuesday so he could travel to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness the return of 30 Americans killed in Afghanistan Saturday. The sad homecoming is closed to the media. President Obama made an unannounced, middle-of-the night trip to Dover AFB in October 2009 to honor the remains of 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan that week. At the time, he was in the process of deciding how many more U.S. troops to send to Afghanistan.)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama was supposed to travel to a trucking comany in Springfield, Virginia Tuesday to announce new fuel-efficiency standards for heavy trucks, buses, and other heavy-to-midsize vehicles, but the public event was scrapped without explanation two hours before it was supposed to begin.

"The President will no longer travel to Interstate Moving Services today," said the the White House press office in an e-mail. Instead, the president was meeting with industry officials at the White House -- no press coverage allowed.

A rapid and sustained drop in stock prices greeted Obama on Monday, when he made his first public comments on the S&P decision to downgrade the U.S. credit rating. It's not clear if the White House feared a repeat performance on Tuesday. At mid-morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had regained around 200 points of Monday's 634-point loss.

The White House says the fuel efficiency standards the president was planning to announce on Tuesday will save business billions of dollars in fuel costs, help reduce oil consumption, and cut air pollution. 

But the standards will add hundreds if not thousands of dollars to the cost of the affected trucks.

The standards apply to vehicle model years 2014-2018 and affect three categories of vehicles.

Big rigs or semis will have to slash fuel consumption and production of heat-trapping gases by up to 23 percent. Gasoline-powered heavy-duty pickups and vans will have to cut consumption by 10 percent, or by 15 percent if the vehicles run on diesel fuel.

The standards set a 9 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for work trucks, which include everything from fire trucks and concrete mixers to garbage trucks and buses, according to the officials, who requested anonymity to speak before the public announcement -- which didn't happen after all.

Shortly after 10 a.m. on Monday, the White House issued a press release saying that Obama's meeting with trucking industrial officials "marks the Administration's announcement of the (fuel efficiency) standards."

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” the press release quoted Obama as saying: “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks.  They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks.  And today, I’m proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium-and heavy-duty trucks.”

As of noon on Tuesday, the Obama's reported trip to Dover AFB was not listed on his official White House schedule.

(The Associated Press contributed some of the information included in this report.)