This is a historic first step to address categories of vehicles previously excluded from America's corporate average fuel economy guidelines. Currently, the vehicles we propose covering account for 20% of the transportation sector's carbon emissions. So reducing those emissions and improving fuel efficiency for these vehicles is certainly a win for the environment.
But the new standards are also a win for energy independence and the economy. We're talking about saving 500 million barrels of oil and cutting emissions by nearly 250 million metric tons over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles covered by our proposals. For example, the new rules are expected to save truckers more than $35 billion in net benefits. Whether you're an independent contractor who relies on a pickup truck or an independent operator of a full-size semi, shrinking fuel costs will mean more money in your pocket.
Some of those fuel-cost savings will also reduce transportation costs for businesses, who may choose to invest those savings in creating new jobs here at home rather than shipping barrels of dollars abroad to foreign energy providers.
The innovative technologies fostered by this program will also yield economic benefits, enhance energy security, and improve air quality.
Sure, we have more work to do as we attempt to mitigate environmental damage and increase our energy independence. But today's announcement is an important step along the way. Please remember, however, that today's announcement was only a proposal. EPA and NHTSA are providing a 60-day comment period.
That's where you come in. The proposal and information about submitting comments are available on the EPA website and the NHTSA website. So visit those websites, read the proposal, and let us hear what you have to say.
When the comment period is over and the proposal is finalized, I look forward to presenting President Obama specific medium and heavy duty vehicle standards for model years 2014 to 2018. These will be our nation's first-ever standards for those vehicles–yes–but they are just one more step in our effort to develop a new generation of clean, fuel-efficient American vehicles.