Federal regulators unveiled a proposal that would require manufacturers of medium and heavy-duty trucks to reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion metric tons and cut fuel costs by about $170 billion by next decade.
Some trucking industry officials worry the rules will dramatically add to the cost of new trucks.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are jointly proposing the emission reductions, which are nearly equal to the greenhouse gas emissions from all U.S. residences in one year. The proposed improvement in fuel-efficiency would save more oil than what the U.S. currently imports annually from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“Once upon a time, to be pro-environment you had to be anti-big-vehicles. This rule will change that,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “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.”
The fuel economy and emission standards would cover more than 7 million tractor trailers and other types of heavy-duty trucks that haul most of the nation’s goods. These rules will require manufacturers to use new technology that could add as much as $14,000 to the cost of making a new truck, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
The Obama Administration is intent on establishing policies that will accelerate the reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas associated with contributing to climate change.
“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.”
Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles currently account for about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector, but only represent about 5% of vehicles on the road.
Globally, oil consumption and greenhouse emissions from heavy-duty vehicles are expected to surpass that of passenger vehicles by 2030.
The United States is working with other major economies to encourage progress on fuel economy standards in other countries, which will improve global energy and climate security by reducing reliance on oil.