EPA’s final truck rule more stringent than proposed

Source: Ariel Wittenberg, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Obama administration announced a final fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas regulation today for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that will cut 1.1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2027.

In its first effort to curb heat-trapping pollution from the popular trucks, U.S. EPA issued a stricter final rule than the one proposed last summer that aimed to reduce greenhouse gases by 1 billion metric tons.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy called the regulation “ambitious and achievable.”

“It will help ensure the American trucking industry continues to drive our economy and protect our planet,” she said.

About 4 percent of vehicles on U.S. roads are medium- or heavy-duty trucks, but they account for 22 percent of oil used by American transportation.

With freight volumes expected to increase by a third by 2040, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the standards represent a “common-sense, cost-effective program that will deliver lasting environmental results.”

By 2027, the rule mandates 25 percent lower emissions for tractor-trailers, delivery trucks, school buses and other large commercial vehicles. It also requires heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans to achieve an annual increase in efficiency of 2.5 percent from 2021 to 2027.

Overall, the rule is expected to save $170 billion in fuel costs while providing $230 billion in net benefits to society, EPA said, with benefits outweighing costs by 8-to-1.

The administration also announced a $137 million investment in Department of Energy efforts to reduce transportation pollution today.

California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols applauded both announcements. “Regulatory advancement needs to be accompanied by investments, and this is a very strategic one,” she said.

The final rule increases the amount of saved fuel and offset emissions by 10 percent compared to the rule proposed last year.

EPA, the federal Department of Transportation and the California Air Resources Board were able to develop a stricter final standard after consulting with stakeholders and seeing that technological advances could be market-ready sooner than anticipated.

“It really was data, it was facts, it was science, it was technology,” McCarthy said. “We were evaluating what we can continue to do so we are providing a more stringent standard in reductions, but doing it in a way that maintains reliability and durability of vehicles.”

The regulators estimate that the cost of compliance will be minimal for truck owners. By 2027, someone who purchases a new truck would recuperate his or her spending on fuel-efficient technology within two years.

“If you look at the lifetime of these vehicles, that is a small fraction of how long these vehicles will actually be in use,” McCarthy said.

Foxx said the final rule has economic benefits as well as environmental ones.

“This is going to be a net savings to owners,” he said. “They will be able to get places using less fuel, which has a bottom-line impact on the cost of goods or the price people pay at grocery stores.”

Indeed, corporations such as PepsiCo, Waste Management and FedEx have voiced support for the regulations.

Environmentalists applauded the final rule.

“Strong, protective Clean Truck standards will be a gold-medal win against climate change,” Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp said in a statement. “Freight trucks use almost 120 million gallons of fuel every day, and emit hundreds of millions of metric tons of climate pollution each year. Rigorous Clean Trucks standards will help us make progress in the fight against climate change, reduce our reliance on imported oil, and save money for both truckers and consumers.”

Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the new standard a “win-win for businesses and our climate.”

“It saves money, encourages innovation and reduces carbon emissions,” she said.