Improving Fuel-Efficiency Standards for Trucks

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According to the EPA, the heavy-duty vehicle sector — from the largest pickups to 18-wheelers — emits about 20 percent of U.S. transportation emissions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced on Oct. 25 the first U.S. standards to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses, beginning with the model year 2014.

The standards are projected to reduce emissions by about 250 million metric tons and to save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program’s first five years. The heavy-duty sector, from the largest pickups to 18-wheelers, emits about 20 percent of U.S. transportation emissions, according to the EPA.

EPA and DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are proposing new standards for three categories of heavy trucks: combination tractors (the semi trucks that typically pull trailers), heavy-duty pickups and vans, and vocational vehicles.

For combination tractors, the agencies are proposing engine and vehicle standards that begin in the 2014 model year and achieve up to 20 percent reductions in both CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by the 2018 model year.

For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, the agencies are seeking separate gasoline and diesel truck standards, which phase in starting in the 2014 model year and achieve up to 10 percent reductions for gasoline vehicles and 15 percent reductions for diesel vehicles by the 2018 model year.

Lastly, for vocational vehicles, EPA and DOT are requesting engine and vehicle standards starting in the 2014 model year that would achieve up to 10 percent reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by the 2018 model year.

The technologies fostered by this program would also yield economic benefits, enhance energy security and improve air quality. Such new technologies include widespread use of aerodynamic improvements and decreased tire rolling resistance, as well as engine and transmission upgrades.

EPA and NHTSA are providing a 60-day comment period that begins when the proposal is published in the Federal Register. As part of the process of developing this proposed rulemaking, NHTSA has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed fuel efficiency standards. The draft EIS compares the environmental impacts of the agency’s proposal with those of a number of regulatory alternatives. Comments may be submitted on the draft EIS through Jan. 3, 2011, and information on the submission of comments for this document can be found at the NHTSA website.

See a full list of the proposed regulations and standards and submit your comment about the EIS draft.

Reprinted from EERE Network News, a free newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy.