Large Trucks Must Reduce Emissions as Much as 20%

Updated on

Large trucks in the U.S. must cut emissions as much as 20 percent by 2018, under the first standards planned for work vehicles, the Obama administration said in proposed rules.

Tractor trucks have to meet the 20 percent target, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said today in a statement. Heavy-duty pickups and vans must reduce emissions 10 percent for gas vehicles and 15 percent for diesel-powered models, while buses, motor homes and garbage trucks must cut emissions 10 percent.

“These are historic standards because they’re the first,” Luke Tonachel, an analyst at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an interview. “Heavy trucks and buses are the energy hogs of America’s roadways.”

President Barack Obama’s administration has been raising fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles in the U.S. to curb pollution and reduce oil imports. Obama has said he plans to make the medium- and heavy-duty truck standards final by July 30, and they would take effect starting with 2014 models.

“This is a transition to more energy efficiency, a transition to lower pollution,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said on a conference call with reporters.

The government has never set efficiency targets or goals to reduce emissions tied to greenhouse gases for heavy-duty trucks such as those used in construction and hauling. Manufacturers include Isuzu Motors Ltd., Daimler AG, Volvo AB, Hino Motors Ltd. and Paccar Inc. Standard pickups, sport utilities and minivans are covered by standards already set for automobiles.

Group Examines Rule

The standards “are feasible and can be attained through technologies currently available,” said Bill Graves, chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations, an Arlington, Virginia-based trade group for 37,000 companies.

The rule will cost $7.7 billion for actions such as upgrading engines, tires and aerodynamics, the agencies said. Benefits will reach $49 billion over the lifetime of vehicles, counting fuel savings, reduced emissions and lower noise, according to the proposed rules.

The work trucks covered by the proposal make up 4 percent of U.S. vehicles while accounting for 20 percent of the oil consumed, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based environmental group. Long-haul tractor-trailers get about 6.5 mpg, the group said.

The proposal affects vehicles with a gross weight of 8,500 pounds or more, except for some sport-utility vehicles, vans that carry fewer than 13 people and half-ton pickups already covered by existing regulations, according to a rules summary.

Voluntary Period

The requirements would be voluntary in 2014 and 2015, according to the highway-safety agency. While tractors must meet the new standards, trailers that lack an engine aren’t covered, according to the summary.

Today’s action follows an April 1 announcement setting rules to boost U.S. automobile fuel-economy standards by about 30 percent over the next six years. Manufacturers must achieve an average of 35.5 miles mpg for 2016 model-year cars and light trucks, up from 27.3 mpg in 2011.

(Updates with trucking group comment in seventh paragraph.)
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