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DOT, EPA introduce proposed fuel standards for heavy-duty vehicles

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
October 25, 2010

Earlier today, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Transportation rolled out the first of its kind national standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses.

DOT and EPA officials said that this effort is projected to reduce GHG emissions by nearly 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program’s first five years.

“This will be a win-win-win, reduce our reliance on oil, strengthen our energy security, and mitigate climate change,” said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood on a national media conference call. “President Obama has directed us to introduce specific standards…by July 30, 2011. When we do, they will be the first in history to cover medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which contribute 20 percent of the transportation sector’s carbon emissions. At the same time, this new program will bolster American competitiveness, spur job creation, benefit businesses and consumers by reducing their transportation costs and stimulating growth in the clean energy sector.”

The proposed standards from the EPA and the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration address three categories of heavy trucks: combination tractors, heavy-duty pickups and vans, and vocational vehicles.

Of particular interests for supply chain and freight transportation stakeholders are the proposed standards for combination tractors. For this category, the DOT and EPA are proposing that engine and vehicle standards beginning in the 2014 model year achieve up to a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by the 2018 model year.

What’s more, the EPA and the DOT’s NHTSA are estimating that this initiative would provide $41 billion in net benefits over the lifetime of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles. And they pointed out that the operator of a semi truck could pay for the required technology upgrades to meet these proposed fuel standards in less than a year and “save up to $74,000 over the truck’s useful life.”

DOT Secretary LaHood also said that this effort will reduce the cost of transporting freight. And EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said that this development is a win for shipping companies and the cities and towns that they serve.

“Cutting emissions is a win for our planet and our comprehensive efforts to take action against climate change,” said Jackson. “In the United States, trucks, buses, and other heavy-duty vehicles are the second-largest and the fastest-growing group in the transportation sector in terms of oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Jackson also noted that these proposed improvements will “pay for themselves,” within a year, as increased costs of new trucks will be quickly saved with lower fuel costs, which would be beneficial for fleet operators. She also said improvements will be made through changes to tires, aerodynamics of trucks and idling.

This news follows CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards for 2012 and 2016, which was assigned to LaHood and Jackson in the form of an executive order by President Barack Obama soon after he was sworn in as President in early 2009.

DOT officials said the EPA and NHTSA are providing a 60-day comment period that will commence when this proposal is published in the Federal Register.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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