By Andrew Childers
Feb. 18 --President Obama ordered his administration to issue new fuel
efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty
trucks by March 2016, following through on a State of the Union pledge to
address the economy and climate change using his executive authority.
Obama called the move “another big step to grow our economy and reduce
America's dependence on foreign oil.” Speaking Feb. 18 at the Safeway
Distribution Center in Upper Marlboro, Md., Obama directed the Environmental
Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to
propose corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions
standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks beyond model year 2018 by March
2015, with a final rule by March 2016.
The new standards would follow
similar requirements the two agencies issued for model year 2014 through 2018
heavy-duty pickup trucks, delivery vehicles and tractor trailers in 2011 (76
Fed. Reg. 57,106).
Although heavy-duty trucks represent only 4 percent
of the vehicles on the road, they account for 20 percent of carbon dioxide
emissions from the transportation sector and consume 20 percent of on-road
fuel, Obama said. Improving the fuel efficiency of the vehicles will reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and save more money for both vehicle operators and
consumers, he said.
“Five years ago, we set out to break our dependence
on foreign oil. And today, America is closer to energy independence than we've
been in decades,” Obama said. “For the first time in nearly 20 years, America
produces more oil here at home than we buy from other countries.”
pledged to use his executive authority to address the climate and the economy
during his State of the Union speech Jan. 28 .
“So the point is I'm
eager to work with Congress wherever I can--but whenever I can act on my own to
expand opportunity for more Americans and help build our middle class, I'm
going to do that,” Obama said Feb. 18.
Truck manufacturers largely supported Obama's announcement though they
cautioned that the compliance period for the first phase of the greenhouse gas
standards has only just gone into effect.
“The industry is still in the
process of implementing the first EPA/NHTSA greenhouse gas/fuel efficiency
program which only went into effect last month,” Jed Mandel, president of the
Engine Manufacturers Association, said in a Feb. 18 statement. “Nevertheless,
EMA and its members are committed to working with EPA and NHTSA to assure that
a second phase program recognizes the commercial needs of the marketplace,
balances stringency and cost while providing adequate lead time and stability,
avoids unintended consequences and assures uniform, accurate and cost-effective
Although manufacturers supported
Obama's announcement, some trucking groups cautioned that the pending emissions
standards shouldn't conflict with other vehicle regulations.
one of our industry's largest expenses, so it makes sense that as an industry
we would support proposals to use less of it,” Bill Graves, president and chief
executive officer of the American Trucking Associations, said in a Feb. 18
statement. “However, we should make sure that new rules don't conflict with
safety or other environmental regulations, nor should they force specific types
of technology onto the market before they are fully tested and ready.”
The Heavy Duty Fuel Efficiency
Leadership Group, a trucking industry group formed to provide input into the
prior fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards, also praised Obama's
“Collectively, we have made significant progress toward
reducing emissions and improving efficiencies--both of which benefit customers,
the public and the environment,” Tom Linebarger, chairman and chief executive
officer of Cummins, said in a statement.
Obama during his announcement
praised the success of the National Clean Fleets Partnership, a public-private
group that provides technical assistance to companies that choose to improve
the fuel efficiency of their trucking fleets. To date, 23 companies, including
Coca-Cola, UPS, AT&T, Enterprise Holdings and Waste Management, have joined
The Heavy Duty Fuel Efficiency Leadership Group urged
the federal government to ensure its standards would harmonize with California
regulations as part of a statement of principles issued Feb. 18.
California Air Resources Board issued greenhouse gas emissions standards for
medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in December 2013. The standards largely align
with federal requirements. However, the California regulations extend through
model year 2019, while the federal standards only cover up to model year 2018
The California Air Resources Board pledged to
work closely with the EPA and the NHTSA during development of the second phase
of federal heavy-duty truck standards.
“We are excited to share the
California experience and technical expertise gained from our early actions to
reduce emissions and save fuel from the heaviest trucks via our California
tractor-trailer greenhouse gas program over the last six years,” California Air
Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said in a Feb. 18 statement.
noted that 70 percent of all domestic freight travels by truck, and the
Consumer Federation of America said that improving the fuel efficiency of
trucks could reduce the cost of goods and provide significant economic benefits
“We know that the fuel costs associated with shipping
goods cross country heavily impact the price of everything from a carton of
milk to a pair of shoes,” Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer
Federation of America, said in a Feb. 18 statement. “Achievable standards that
cut fuel use by nearly 50 percent would put $29.5 billion back into the pockets
Fuel consumption from
heavy-duty vehicles cost more than $1,100 per U.S. household in 2010, the
Consumer Federation said in a Feb. 3 report. Fuel consumption represents
one-third of trucking transportation costs, the single largest expenditure,
according to the report .
To contact the reporter on this
story: Andrew Childers in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor
responsible for this story: Larry Pearl in Washington at email@example.com
A White House fact sheet
on the announcement is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/02/18/fact-sheet-opportunity-all-improving-fuel-efficiency-american-trucks-bol.
To view additional stories from Daily Environment
Report™ register for a free trial now