EPA proposes stronger standards to reduce truck emissions

by Today's Trucking

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing new, stronger standards to reduce emissions of soot-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) from heavy-duty gasoline and diesel engines starting in model year 2027.

EPA intends to reduce NOx emissions from trucks by as much as 60% in 2045, according to a press release.

(Photo: iStock)

It would also update greenhouse gas standards for sectors where electrification is advancing at a more rapid pace – including commercial delivery trucks and short-haul tractors.

EPA will be setting new GHG emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles as soon as model year 2030 to comprehensively address the long-term trend toward zero emissions vehicles across the heavy-duty sector.

EPA said the action is the first step in its “Clean Trucks Plan”. The goal is to “deliver significant and needed public health benefits by designing a program that sets ambitious standards and that are feasible for the trucking industry after giving appropriate consideration to cost and other factors, while supporting the American economy.” 

The American Trucking Associations said it shared the U.S. administration’s goal of cleaner air but also wants to make sure it does not hurt the industry.

ATA wants reliable technology

“We share the Biden Administration’s goals of reducing air pollution – as a longtime member of EPA SmartWay Transport Partnership – we have worked in harmony with environmental regulators to successfully reduce greenhouse gas and NOx emissions,” said American Trucking Associations (ATA) president and CEO Chris Spear.
“We will be looking very closely at the proposal put forth today by the administration and working with them to shape an outcome that builds on those reductions, while not hurting the reliability of the trucks and trailers we purchase, nor imposing unreasonable or unworkable costs on our industry,” he added.
“We want to ensure that the Biden Administration sets one, single national NOx emissions standard and that such standard can be achieved with workable, reliable technology – anything less than that will be extremely problematic for ATA and our members.” 

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) slammed the announcement, saying it will force safe drivers off the road, especially small-business truckers, and owner-operators.

OOIDA urges trucker input

When the Cleaner Trucks Initiative was announced in 2020, OOIDA says it supported EPA in hopes that a collaborative rulemaking process with input from professional truck drivers would result in practical emissions standards. The OOIDA said that goal has been largely ignored in favor of government overreach.

“We believe there is a more realistic path forward to reducing commercial vehicle emissions that actually involves listening to men and women in the trucking industry. We hope EPA will get back to that strategy as they develop the Final Cleaner Trucks Initiative Rule throughout the rest of the year. Truckers know all too well from experience with previous rulemakings that poorly implemented regulations will result in breakdowns, downtime, and ultimately set back the goal of achieving cleaner air,” the association said in a press release.

Warning against dramatic shifts

The Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) warned a rule that results in dramatic shifts in the new truck market will be bad for jobs, the economy, and the environment.

Diesel engines are going to going to continue to dominate many segments of the trucking sector for some time yet and the EPA must get this proposed rule right, DTF executive director Allen Schaeffer said in a press release.

“The right rule will enable further improvements in diesel technology and continued investments in new vehicles that will be important to sustain progress toward meeting both clean air and climate goals,” he said.

Truckers must be willing and able to invest in the next generation of advanced diesel products to emerge from these rules to ensure continued progress on meeting clean air and climate objectives. Otherwise, without continued turnover in the fleet, older generations of technology with relatively higher emissions will stay in service longer, thereby delaying benefits to disadvantaged communities and contributing to worse air quality all around the country.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy on Monday released a study showing that by 2030, nearly half of medium- and heavy-duty trucks will be cheaper to buy, operate, and maintain as zero emissions vehicles than traditional diesel-powered combustion engine vehicles. 

Clean vehicles to become cheaper

Published by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the study found that continued improvements with zero emission vehicle and fuel technologies will enable clean trucks to become cheaper and more readily available over the next decade.

Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles account for less than 5% of the vehicles on the road but produce over 20% of the emissions from the transportation sector, which currently accounts for more than one-third of U.S. green-house gas emissions. The report suggests that cost competitiveness of zero-emissions medium- and heavy-duty vehicles can largely be achieved by 2035.

Battery electric trucks are expected to become cost-competitive for smaller trucks before 2030 while heavy trucks with less than 500-miles of range are projected to be cost-competitive by 2035. Due to advancements for fuel cells and clean hydrogen production, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles are expected to become cost-competitive for long-haul heavy-duty trucks with greater than 500-mile range by 2035.

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  • well , All that sounds fine and dandy. I am small fleet owner less then 10 trucks. with the cost of repairs on the def system my trucks are running , the back orders on filters3 to 4 weeks out is about to put me out of business. I laugh when you all say trucks will be cheaper a used truck now is around 80.000 to 160,000 pending on the miles.
    Big companies can afford to roll over trucks , I can’t. They talk about the emissions being 20% from trucks . I call bulls$%%^^. Look at all the race cars running no kind of filters. All the personal cars , look at the rail engines farm equipment. Construction equipment. What are the real numbers on the carbon foot print to make these new batteries, for all the new cars and trucks? I feel the push is from Big Government, . What happens when a power grid goes down? Solar flare. We are screwed. I could go on and on.

    • Well said other parts of the world Russia mexico do not meet our current standards. We need more parking with electric plugs and natural gas fueling stations and more mechanic first

  • Saw an interesting stat the other re gas powered leaf blowers. 30 min with a leaf blower equals 6000 km’s of class 8 truck emissions.
    Also your picture of the concrete mixer “belching” black smoke does a disservice to the industry as after 2006 this was a thing of the past if the emission controls are maintained.