Obama Turns Focus to Fuel Standards

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President Barack Obama officially ordered his administration to beef up fuel standards for heavy-duty vehicles Tuesday, framing the initiative as part of his effort to bolster the middle class.

"Today, America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades," the president said at a Safeway distribution center in suburban Maryland. "One of the reasons why is that we dedicated ourselves to manufacturing new cars and trucks that go farther on a gallon of gas."

Obama had announced his intention to boost fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles (which he said accounts for 20 percent of on-road fuel consumption) during his State of the Union address. The order is one of the many executive actions Obama has taken to showcase his conviction to advance his policies without the help of a disagreeable Congress.

"Surely in the past 20 days, the President could have found time to pick up his pen and respond to Congress," said Rory Cooper, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. "It’s abundantly clear that President Obama is not interested in working with Congress to solve the problems facing working middle class families."

Obama didn't focus much on Congress during his remarks, though. He instead extolled the efforts already taken by his administration to boost fuel economy as a boon for consumers and the automotive industry.

"Anybody who had dire predictions for the auto industry," he said, "every time they say that, they're proven wrong."