By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will direct federal agencies on Tuesday to develop higher standards for medium-sized and heavy trucks over the next two years, another step in his efforts to reduce oil consumption and carbon emissions blamed for global warming.
Obama will travel to Upper Marlboro, Maryland, to make his announcement at a distribution center for Safeway grocery stores.
The Obama administration requires automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and light trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 under rules that took effect in 2012.
Obama will now direct the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department to develop new rules for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency by March 2016.
The new rules will build on standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that the Obama administration imposed on model years 2014-18 and will reach well into the next decade, according to details of the new plan released by the White House ahead of the announcement.
Development of new truck fuel standards is another sign of Obama's increasing efforts to address climate change and convince Americans of the urgent need to take action.
By ordering federal agencies to develop new standards, Obama is able to act on his own and sidestep Congress, which remains divided about what to do about a warming planet.
Obama said in California's drought zone on Friday that a warming planet is intensifying the severity of droughts and other weather events.
"Unless and until we do more to combat carbon pollution that causes climate change, this trend is going to get worse," he said.
Obama will also renew his appeal for Congress to end $4 billion a year in subsidies to the oil and gas industry and urge lawmakers to establish a $2 billion "energy security trust" to support development of advanced vehicles that run on electricity, homegrown biofuels, hydrogen, and domestically produced natural gas.
The $2 billion in spending would be drawn from revenues generated by federal oil and gas development.