Proposed Standards for GHG

The trucking industry news site Fleet Owner features an article that covers 10 key points on the proposed truck standards for Phase II of the new Obama Administration greenhouse gas (GHG) laws.

Calling heavy-duty trucks the second largest and fastest growing segment of the U.S. transportation sector in terms of emissions and energy use, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles currently account for about 20 percent of greenhouse emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector, though they only account for about 5 percent of the total number of vehicles on the road.

This is an obvious disparity that the government is trying to reduce by setting these new fuel efficiency standards for commercial vehicles as technology continues to be able to support these new standards. The question, though, is whether the trucking industry’s bottom line can support them.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have proposed the new standards for model years 2021 through 2027. The standards are believed to lower the carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 1 billion metric tons, cut fuel costs by about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.

Here are the first 5 of the 10 key points from Fleet Owner writer Kevin Jones, along with a shortened version of the explanations behind the points.

  1. Why-Reducing the carbon footprint for heavy-duty trucks is part of the administration’s environmental agenda, aimed at acting on climate change “before the planet is beyond fixing,” as President Obama said two years ago at the outset of his Climate Action Plan.
  2. Why trucking? The government says that heavy-duty trucks are the second largest, fastest growing segment of the U.S. transportation sector when it comes to the usage of energy and for emissions.
  3. What does fuel consumption have to do with greenhouse gases? Burning diesel and gasoline releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. At the levels emitted into the atmosphere, carbon dioxide is dangerous to the environments, and its effects to the world will eventually have harmful and even dangerous consequences to humanity. This program would save approximately 1.8 billion barrels of oil, or 75 billion gallons of fuel, over the lifetime of the vehicles that are subject to these standards. That constitutes more than a year’s worth of American imports from OPEC.
  4. What are the trucking goals? Janet McCabe, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator, has called freight efficiency, or the amount of freight that can be hauled per mile, per gallon of fuel, as the standard for the trucking industry’s efficiency. By 2027, the EPA says that the average line-haul truck would have a 50 percent improvement in freight efficiency, potentially rising to 90 percent with the development and implementation of more efficient technologies.
  5. Where are these improvements coming from? The proposal notes that these goals can be met by using cost effective technology that is already available in the marketplace or that is in development now. While the standards do not dictate the use of a specific technology to meet the standards, they do create standards that are achievable through an array of technology options, allowing manufacturers to select and use the technologies that they believe will work best for their products and for their customers, according to the government. Among these technologies that may contribute to meeting the standards are improved transmissions, engine combustion optimization, aerodynamic improvements, and low-rolling resistance tires.

With a concerted, sustained effort and cooperation from the trucking industry, these changes may indeed create a sustained, measurable impact to the environment and work to lower the carbon footprint of heavy-duty trucks, as well as potentially create technologies that can be adapted to commuter vehicles as well, leading to additional benefits.

You can read the remainder of this article, as well as read more about each key point, by visiting Fleet Owner and reading the article about these 10 key points for the trucking industry.