The federal government hopes new standards can reduce the impact of climate change by improving fuel efficiency and cutting carbon pollution.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will propose standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles Friday that they hope will bolster energy security and spur manufacturing innovation.
“Once upon a time, to be pro-environment you had to be anti-big-vehicles. This rule will change that,” said Anthony Foxx, U.S Transportation Secretary in a statement. “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 proposed vehicle and engine performance standards would apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all buses and work trucks for model years 2021 to 2027.
For the first time, the agencies are also proposing efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for trailers. The EPA trailer standards will begin to take effect in model year 2018 for certain trailers.
There is generally universal approval for the changes because most industry leaders were consulted before the standards were proposed, said William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.
Companies that would push back may do so because they weren’t consulted, he said.
“They haven’t worked as closely with the EPA as some of the others,” he said. “Or they would complain about the cost and the extent to which they would have to implement the program in the timeframe established and they would probably complain that it’s not necessary.”
Becker said the devil is likely in the details of the standards and as they are rolled out, more organizations like his will have more questions for the EPA.
About 5 percent of vehicles on the road are medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, but they account for about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector.
Officials say the proposed standards could lower CO2 emissions by about 1 billion metric tons while cutting fuel costs by about $170 billion. This move could also reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.
Government officials say these proposed standards are cost effective for consumers and businesses.
“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.”