Obama Highlights Commercial Sector's Fuel-Efficient Fleets

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WASHINGTON -- With one eye on the gas pump and the other on his energy agenda, President Obama showcased fuel-efficient vehicles as part of his goal to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil.

The president made a short trip Friday to Landover, Md., to visit a UPS shipping facility that features fuel-saving vehicles. Obama announced the launching of a public-private partnership designed to help large commercial fleets cut back on their diesel and gasoline use.

Besides UPS vehicles, Obama also viewed examples of fuel efficiency in the fleets of AT&T, PepsiCo and Verizon.

The stop represents Obama's second energy-related event of the week, an effort by the White House to respond to rising gasoline prices by placing a focus on Obama's long-term energy strategies.

On Wednesday, the president called for a one-third reduction in U.S. oil imports by 2025. His energy proposals include boosting domestic oil production, increasing the use of natural gas and alternative fuels and making cars and trucks more efficient.

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According to the Energy Department, more than 3 million commercial vehicles used American roads in 2009, guzzling nearly 4 billion gallons of fuel.

UPS, FedEx, PepsiCo, AT&T and Verizon are charter members of the public-private partnership. They are five of the 10 largest commercial fleets operating in the United States.

The five companies have made a commitment to use 20,000 fuel-efficient vehicles with an estimated fuel savings of 7 million gallons of diesel or gasoline a year. The White House says that together the companies operate more than 275,000 vehicles.

The Obama administration is encouraging large companies to use more efficient vehicles and to upgrade their fleets with vehicles that use electricity, natural gas or other alternative fuels. The partnership gives companies the opportunity to undertake group purchasing and to collaborate with the Energy Department for technical assistance.