Big-truck speed governors would hike fuel efficiency

President Barack Obama has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop national standards for big truck fuel economy and reduced emissions by 2014. The goal is to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution caused by heavy commercial vehicles.

Why wait until 2014, Mr. President?

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Fuel savings can be achieved and pollution reduced immediately if you order speed governors already installed on big trucks to be set at 65 mph.

Here’s why: Excessive speed is the largest single factor in reduced fuel mileage; therefore, the best way to increase fuel efficiency and to decrease pollution is to limit their top speed. Trucks consume more than two million barrels of oil a day and emit 20 percent of greenhouse gas pollution related to transportation.

According to Kenworth Truck Company, the leading manufacturer of medium and heavy-duty trucks, by reducing its speed by 10 mph, a truck is able to achieve a 16.6 percent improvement in fuel economy.

Every mile per hour above 50 mph reduces fuel mileage by one-tenth of 1 percent.

If a truck’s speed drops from 75 mph down to 65 mph, studies show it is able to gain one mile per gallon, which may not seem like much to a small car, but to a truck that only gets six miles to the gallon, that is a very significant impact.

There is no need to wait until 2014. A process to improve fuel economy and reduce pollution is already within our grasp, with immediate effects. With speed governors already on every truck manufactured after 1992, all that needs to be done is have these speed governors turned on.

A well-supported petition to mandate the use of speed governors at 65 mph is under consideration at the Department of Transportation. This petition was sponsored by Road Safe America, the American

Trucking Associations and numerous safety-minded national trucking companies. This low-hanging fruit should be picked now. The original rationale behind the petition was safety, but if fuel economy and pollution abatement are deemed as more important and can get this petition approved, so be it.

From Steve Owings, President and co-founder Road Safe America, Atlanta, Ga.

Whitman has long way to go before presidency

Cheri Jacobus committed a pair of serious non-sequiturs in her column “Tea leaves point to Whitman” (6/24) about Meg Whitman and a Republican becoming the first female president.

First, she asserts Hillary Rodham Clinton wouldn’t be the distinguished public servant she is today had she not married Bill Clinton. Sorry, but it’s specious to make such a claim. In her 20s and graduated from Yale Law School, Hillary Rodham worked for the House Judiciary Committee in the run-up to Richard Nixon’s impeachment hearings. And had she stuck around Washington instead of going off to Arkansas, it’s entirely possible she could have clerked for a Supreme Court justice or a federal judge. A pretty good platform to launch yourself into public life, if you ask me.

Second, Jacobus makes being a CEO sound like a virtue. Sure, Whitman’s got what’s considered a good pedigree from her days at eBay, but that alone is hardly enough to get by in politics. Jacobus takes a shot at President Barack Obama for a lack of executive experience, but a decade ago it was GOP pros like Jacobus who foisted on the American people the idea that George W. Bush would be the “CEO president” with “executive chairman” Dick Cheney looking over his shoulder providing sage advice. The upshot: You can’t spell caveat emptor without the letters C-E-O.

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And granted, Whitman might have the personal fortune to try to buy California’s governorship. The jury’s out on whether she’s got the temperament that, say, Michael Bloomberg has put to good effect as mayor of New York, however. For starters, Whitman will have to endure all the reheated questions about her dealings in IPO shares of Goldman Sachs, whose board she resigned from in 2002. More recently, she’ll have to explain — in a debate with Jerry Brown, it would seem, since she has no use for the media and dodges the political press at every opportunity — her demagogic rhetoric about Arizona’s immigration law.

Meg’ll have to put on her best CEO face to skate around such obstacles. But with memories of CEOs named Hayward and Blankfein in their heads, will enough Californians buy her song and dance?

From Mike Maynard, Gaithersburg, Maryland