WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2016) — The Obama Administration has finalized fuel-efficiency standards for buses, large trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles that are expected to cut more than 1 billion tons of carbon pollution, save about $170 billion in fuel costs and reduce related oil consumption by 84 billion gallons by the time they are fully implemented in 2027.
The new standard was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in conjunction with National Highway Transportation Safety Administration over four years.
“This next phase of standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while driving innovation, and will ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in developing fuel-efficient technologies through the next decade and beyond,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said.
The changes build on the fuel-efficiency and greenhouse-gas emission standards already in place for 2014-2018 model-year vehicles, which were introduced in 2011 and are expected to reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said it was “cautiously optimistic” that the second round of these fuel-efficiency standards would achieve the targets set out by the administration and expressed hope that the 10-year phase-in period for the regulation would not be “unduly disruptive” to fleets and manufacturers.
“While today's fuel prices are more than 50-percent lower than those we experienced in 2008, fuel is still one of the top two operating expenses for most trucking companies,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said.
The ATA exec stressed that the industry worked closely with the EPA and NHTSA over the past three-and-a-half years to ensure these fuel-efficiency and greenhouse-gas standards took into account the diversity of equipment and operations across the trucking sector.
This new round of regulations is one of the last major pieces of President Barack Obama's agenda tackling climate change, put in place almost exclusively through policy and regulation changes in the auto industry and at power plants, chemical facilities and oil and natural gas operations in the absence of action from a divided Congress.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called the new requirements “ambitious but achievable.” While expected to drive up initial vehicle costs, the regulations will more than offset such costs by way of increased air quality, savings at the pump and benefits all the way though the supply chain, he said.
“Today's action preserves flexibility for manufacturers to deliver on these objectives through a range of innovations and technology pathways,” Mr. Foxx said.
Though they only account for about 5 percent of the vehicles on U.S. roads, medium- and heavy-duty trucks are responsible for about 20 percent of fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
The regulations extend for the first time to trailers, which will be expected to increase efficiency by 4 to 9 percent beginning in 2018 with certain models under EPA regulations, which excludes mobile homes. NHTSA standards will take effect in 2021, though companies can get credits for voluntary participation before then.
Cost effective technologies for trailers — including aerodynamic devices, light weight construction and self-inflating tires — can significantly reduce total fuel consumption by tractor-trailers, while paying back the owners in less than two years due to the fuel saved, according to the agencies.
Because many trailer companies are small businesses, the government is including provisions to reduce the financial burdens of the program, including a one-year delay and streamlined certification requirements for qualified small businesses.
This story first appeared on the website of Plastics News, a sister publication of Tire Business.