New federal GHG, fuel-efficiency standards for trucks, etc. finalized

On Aug. 16, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a news release announced: “Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly finalized standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution, while bolstering energy security and spurring manufacturing innovation. The final phase two standards were called for by President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and respond to the President’s directive in early 2014 to develop new standards that run into the next decade.

Diesel-smoke[1]“The final phase two program promotes a new generation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient trucks by encouraging the wider application of currently available technologies and the development of new and advanced cost-effective technologies through model year 2027. The final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. Overall, the program will provide $230 billion in net benefits to society, including benefits to our climate and the public health of Americans. These benefits outweigh costs by about an 8-to-1 ratio,” the EPA stated.

The engine performance and vehicle standards, to cover 2021 to 2027 model years, apply to large pickup and semi-trucks and also to vans, as well as to every size and type of work truck and bus, the EPA noted. Marked improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency and substantial reductions in GHGs are the hallmark of this program. In fact, after full phase-in, tractor-trailer tractors, for instance, according to the EPA, will use up to a quarter less fuel, resulting in a 25 percent decrease in emissions of carbon dioxide than what would a comparable model year 2018 tractor.

The federal regulatory agency in the release further stressed, “Heavy-duty trucks are the second largest segment and collectively make up the biggest increase in the U.S. transportation sector in terms of emissions and energy use. These vehicles currently account for about 20 percent of GHG emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector. Globally, GHG emissions from heavy-duty vehicles are growing rapidly and are expected to surpass emissions from passenger vehicles by 2030. Through the Paris climate agreement and discussions with other countries, the United States is working with other major economies to encourage progress on fuel economy standards, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will improve global energy and climate security by reducing our reliance on oil.”

Added to this, first-time fuel-efficiency and GHG standards for trailers are being finalized. Excluding mobile homes and certain similar categories, and whereas the NHTSA’s standards aren’t going to go into effect until year 2021, the EPA’s standards are slated to become effective starting with model year 2018 trailers. Such cost-effective trailer technologies include “aerodynamic devices, light weight construction and self-inflating tires” which, according to the EPA, lower significantly consumption of tractor-trailer-tractor fuel and because of the fuel savings this will allow owners to recoup costs faster.

Soybeanbus[1]“The final standards are cost effective for customers and businesses, delivering favorable payback periods for truck owners,” the EPA pronounced. “The buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 would recoup the investment in fuel-efficient technology in less than two years through fuel savings.”

There’s absolutely nothing not to like about these two moves!

– Alan Kandel