EPA, DOT propose new greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards

by Truck News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) together with the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles today, that would improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution.

The standards proposed today are expected to lower CO2 emissions by 1 billion metric tons whilst cutting fuel costs by nearly $170 billion. Oil consumption would also be reduced by 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program, the agencies claim.

“Once upon a time, to be pro-environment you had to be anti-big-vehicles,” said US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx. “This rule will change that. In fact, these efficiency standards are good for the environment – and the economy. When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down. It’s good news all around, especially for anyone with an online shopping habit.”

According to the research, the proposed standards are cost effective and the buyer of of a new long-haul truck in 2027 would recoup the investment in fuel-efficient technologies in less than two years through fuel savings.

“We’re delivering big time on President Obama’s call to cut carbon pollution,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “With emission reductions weighing in at 1 billion tons, this proposal will save consumers, businesses and truck owners money; and at the same time spur technology innovation and job-growth, while protecting Americans’ health and our environment over the long haul.”

Today, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for 20% of GHG emissions.

The proposed vehicle and engine performance standards would cover model years 2021-2027 and apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks.

The research shows that the trucks would achieve up to 24% lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than an equivalent tractor in 2018.

The agencies say the proposed standards are:

*   Grounded in rigorous technical data and analysis.
*   Reflect extensive outreach with industry and other stakeholders.
*   Rely on cost-effective technologies to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce GHG emissions that are currently available or in development.
*   They do not mandate the use of specific technologies. Rather they establish standards achievable through a range of technology options, and allow manufacturers to choose those technologies that work best for their products and for their customers. (These technologies include improved transmissions, engine combustion optimization, aerodynamic improvements and low rolling resistance tires).
*   Phased in over the long-term, beginning in model year 2021 and culminating in standards for model year 2027 – giving manufacturers the time and flexibility to plan.
*   Flexible, by allowing banking and trading emissions credits for most manufacturers, and providing businesses the opportunity to choose the most cost-effective path to meet the standards.

As expected, the agencies are also proposing the same sort of standards for trailers. Though it will exclude categories for mobile homes, the EPA trailer standard would take effect in model year 2018 for certain trailers, while NHTSA’s standards would be effective as of 2021.

The proposal also includes separate engine standards as well, to promote continued progress on engine efficiency.

It is important to note that the proposal announced today builds on the fuel efficiency and GHG standards that were already in place for 2014-2018, and that the standards outlined today are fully harmonized between the EPA and NHTSA.

A public comment period will be open for 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register. Both agencies will host two public hearings stakeholders over the course of the comment period.

The ATA has already offered its support for the proposed standards, though it remains concerned the rule may be a result in the use of certain technologies on vehicles before they can be properly tested.

“Fuel is an enormous expense for our industry – and carbon emissions carry an enormous cost for our planet,” said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves. “That’s why our industry supported the Obama Administration’s historic first round of greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for medium and large trucks and why we support the aims of this second round of standards.

ATA vice-president and energy and environmental counsel Glen Kedzie added: “We believe this rule could result in the deployment of certain technologies that do not fully recognize the diversity of our industry and could prove to be unreliable. This unreliability could slow not only adoption of these technologies, but the environmental benefits they aim to create. To prevent this, truck and engine manufacturers will need adequate time to develop solutions to meet these new standards.”

Kedzie added that fuel is a main operating expense and most fleets want a return on their investment within the first 18 to 24 months.

“In 2014, trucking spent nearly $150 billion on diesel fuel alone,” he said. “So the potential for real cost savings and associated environmental benefits of this rule are there – but fleets will need a wide variety of proven and durable technologies to meet these new standards throughout the various implementation stages.”

Stay tuned to TruckNews.com for more details on the proposed standards.

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