New heavy-duty vehicle standards will make for cleaner truck transport, improve air quality, fight climate change, keep U.S. economy humming

WASHINGTON – Today, March 29, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced final national greenhouse gas pollution standards for heavy-duty vehicles, such as freight trucks and buses, for model years 2027 through 2032. The standards will avoid 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and provide $13 billion in annualized net benefits to society related to public health, the climate, and savings for truck owners and operators. The final standards will also reduce dangerous air pollution, especially for the 72 million people in the United States who live near truck freight routes, bear the burden of higher levels of pollution, and are more likely to be people of color or come from low-income households.

The “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3” standards will provide greater certainty for industry, while catalyzing private investment, supporting U.S. manufacturing jobs in advanced vehicle technologies, and invigorating and strengthening the U.S. economy. Over the next decade, these final standards, paired with President Biden’s historic Investing in America agenda and investments in U.S. manufacturing, will set the U.S. heavy-duty sector on a trajectory for sustained growth.

EPA’s latest modeling shows that the final standards will result in greater reductions of pollution than the proposed rule, while providing more time and flexibility for manufacturers to develop, scale, and deploy clean heavy-duty vehicle technologies. The 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions avoided by these standards is equivalent to the emissions from more than 13 million tanker trucks’ worth of gasoline. With this action, the Biden-Harris Administration is continuing to deliver on the most ambitious climate agenda in history while advancing a historic commitment to environmental justice.

“In finalizing these emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles like trucks and buses, EPA is significantly cutting pollution from the hardest working vehicles on the road,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Building on our recently finalized rule for light- and medium-duty vehicles, EPA’s strong and durable vehicle standards respond to the urgency of the climate crisis by making deep cuts in emissions from the transportation sector.”

“EPA’s standards complement President Biden’s unprecedented investment in our workers and communities to reduce harmful emissions, while strengthening our manufacturing capacity for the transportation technologies of the future,” said President Biden’s National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi. “By tackling pollution from heavy-duty vehicles, we can unlock extraordinary public health, climate, and economic gains.”

Trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles are vital to the United States economy, transporting goods and freight and providing services for industry, transit, and other sectors. At the same time, heavy-duty vehicles account for 25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, which is itself the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Greenhouse gas emissions are the primary driver of climate change and its impacts, including more severe heat waves, drought, sea level rise, extreme climate and weather events, coastal flooding, and catastrophic wildfires.

Heavy-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Standards

Today’s “Phase 3” standards build on EPA’s Heavy-Duty Phase 2 program from 2016 and maintain that program’s flexible structure, which is designed to reflect the diverse nature of the heavy-duty vehicle industry. The standards are technology-neutral and performance-based, allowing each manufacturer to choose what set of emissions control technologies is best suited for them and the needs of their customers. Available technologies include advanced internal combustion engine vehicles, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These new standards apply to heavy-duty vocational vehicles (such as delivery trucks, refuse haulers, public utility trucks, and transit, shuttle, and school buses) and tractors (such as day cabs and sleeper cabs on tractor-trailer trucks).

Relative to the proposal, EPA’s final rule provides more time in the early model years of the program for the development of vehicle technologies and deployment of charging and refueling infrastructure. The final rule also includes flexibilities that will assist manufacturers in meeting the standards in the early years of the program while preserving incentives for early adoption of advanced technologies.

EPA received extensive feedback on the proposed rule, including over 175,000 public comments, testimony at public hearings, and engagement with stakeholder groups. The final standards were informed by the best available data and information in the public record and rigorous technical assessments, including consideration of the extensive public input EPA received in response to the proposed rulemaking.

Prioritizing Public Health and Climate Benefits

Pollution from heavy-duty vehicles contributes to climate change and can exacerbate serious health issues such as respiratory and heart ailments, especially for the 72 million people in the United States who live close to truck freight routes and are more likely to be people of color or come from low-income households. Today’s final heavy-duty greenhouse gas standards complete EPA’s Clean Trucks Plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollutants (including nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and air toxics) from heavy-duty vehicles through a series of rulemakings. These rules include today’s standards as well as (1) EPA’s recently finalized light- and medium-duty vehicle multipollutant standards for MY 2027-2032 (which covers Class 2b and 3 trucks), and (2) EPA’s December 2022 rule to control smog- and soot-forming emissions from heavy-duty engines and vehicles. The Clean Trucks Plan represents the most protective set of EPA regulations ever for the on-road sector, significantly reducing pollution, protecting public health, and responding to the urgency of climate change.

Investing in America’s Clean Transportation Future

The final standards align with and support the commitments and billions of dollars’ worth of investments from trucking fleets, vehicle manufacturers, and vehicle technology firms as they plan to increase the use or production of clean vehicle technologies in trucking and other heavy-duty fleets. These investments are resulting in a range of technologies with the potential for further significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty motor vehicles.

EPA recently announced the launch of the $3 billion Clean Ports Program to help tackle emissions from heavy-duty vehicles both in and out of U.S. port communities. Along with EPA’s long-standing Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program which reduces harmful emissions from diesel engines, the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Clean School Bus Program, and an upcoming clean heavy-duty program to fund the replacement of existing Class 6 or Class 7 vehicles with clean technology vehicles, we are making changes in communities now to reduce emissions from the heavy-duty fleet. Together, these programs are offering billions of dollars in funding to replace older vehicles and engines with clean vehicle technology options.

As the EPA finalizes the rule, the Biden-Harris Administration is also investing funds in communities across America from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to promote clean transportation, including building a national network of EV chargers and alternative-fuel stations; ensuring domestic manufacturers have the materials they need to make EV batteries; and funding clean transit and clean school buses, with priority for underserved communities. In addition, funding through the Inflation Reduction Act will directly support the clean-vehicle transition through support for domestic battery manufacturing and clean vehicle purchases for owners, operators, and businesses.

For more, and to learn what leaders are saying about the final rule, see: “Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes Strongest Ever Greenhouse Gas Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles to Protect Public Health and Address the Climate Crisis While Keeping the American Economy Moving,” Mar. 29, 2024 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release here.

Corresponding, connected home-page-featured image: CalEPA Air Resources Board