Proposed EPA Truck Rules Promised To Cut 1 Billion Tons of CO2; 1 Year’s Worth of OPEC Imports

New emissions and mpg standards for for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and even now trailers jointly proposed today by federal government agencies promise to slash oil consumption equal to one year of OPEC imports.

The new Phase 2 MD/HD vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards announced today are projected after a further review process to be finalized by 2016. They would apply in cases by 2018 and for trucks through model years 2021-2027 and they build on pre-existing federal rules in place. Included in the proposed new rules would be trucks as small as pickups, vans, buses and work trucks and as large as semi tractor trailers.

In a statement today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are pitching the deal as a win-win scenario for consumers, industry, the environment, and energy security – in short, everyone – and the federal government says it’s kept key parties in the loop.

“The agencies have worked closely with the State of California’s Air Resources Board in developing the proposed standards,” said the EPA today in a statement.

For the first time also, the new rules would account for efficiency of trailers. This would exclude some categories including mobile homes, but the plan for certain trailers would begin in 2018 and ramp up toward 2021 with voluntary compliance requested in the interim.

“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,” said the EPA in a statement.

Today’s news was announced after three years of “extensive testing and research,” the case is presented as a strong one, and the EPA touted benefits up front that would result with implementation of the standards.

Chief among these is expected reduction of CO2 emissions by approximately 1 billion metric tons, fuel costs cut by approximately $170 billion, and oil consumption cut by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold during the program’s time frame.

“These reductions are nearly equal to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with energy use by all U.S. residences in one year,” said the EPA in a statement. “The total oil savings under the program would be greater than a year’s worth of U.S. imports from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).”

The EPA notes that within the in the U.S. transportation sector, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are currently responsible for about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and oil use, but only comprise about five percent of vehicles on the road. Worldwide, the EPA estimates oil consumption and GHG emissions from heavy-duty vehicles are expected to surpass that of passenger vehicles by 2030.

“Through the G-20 and discussions with other countries, 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,” said the EPA.

But all told, the EPA is appealing to all.

“Once upon a time, to be pro-environment you had to be anti-big-vehicles. This rule will change that,” said U.S 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.”

Further making the case for what might receive pushback from the trucking industry, the EPA appealed to the interests of those who would have to develop more-effieicnt vehicles to stay in compliance and those who stand to benefit from them.

“The proposed standards are cost effective for consumers and businesses, delivering favorable payback periods for truck owners; 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,” said the EPA.

The EPA said it has to date worked closely with industry and other stakeholders, and today represented the law as speaking with one voice from EPA, NHTSA, and CARB.

After the proposal is published in the Federal Register, a public comment period will be open for 60 days. Also, NHTSA and EPA will host two public hearings and continue our open-door policy of meeting with stakeholders over the course of the comment period.

“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.”

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