President Obama signed a presidential order today that for the first time would establish fuel economy standards and greenhouse gas emissions limits for heavy-duty and medium trucks, starting in 2014.
“This will bring down costs for transporting goods, serving businesses and consumers alike,” Obama said in a statement. The president said tractor-trailer fuel economy could be improved as much as 25 percent using existing technologies.
The president’s order directs the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation to develop truck fuel economy standards for model year 2014 to 2018.
Heavy-duty trucks average 6.1 miles per gallon and emit 20 percent of the greenhouse gases produced by transportation sources, the White House said.
The order also calls for an extension of fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks to 2017 and beyond, and increased support for alternative-fuel vehicles.
While truck nitrogen oxide and particulates emissions standards have been tightened regularly since the 1980s, this is the first time fuel efficiency standards and greenhouse gas limits have been proposed for heavy-duty trucks.
Several truck manufacturing and trucking officials were on hand for the signing of the declaration in the White House Rose Garden, including Tommy Hodges, chairman of the American Trucking Associations and of truckload carrier Titan Transfer, .
“Participating in this effort is consistent with measures we already have in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our operations and our products,” said Denny Slagle, president and CEO of Mack Trucks. With new engine technology, Mack already has improved fuel economy of its trucks by 5 percent or more, Slagle said.
Strengthening heavy truck fuel economy by 3.7 miles per gallon would reduce U.S. oil consumption by 11 billion gallons a year by 2030, the Union of Concerned Scientists and technology consortium CALSTART said in a report released yesterday.
UCS found the net cost savings from more efficient trucks would total $24 billion in 2030, at a diesel price of $3.50 a gallon — a conservative estimate.
Fuel savings will help balance higher equipment costs, UCS Senior Analyst Don Anair said. “Efficiency improvements could save Class 8 ‘big rig’ fleet truck owners more than $120,000 per tractor-trailer over eight years and owner-operators more than $80,000 over 10 to 15 years, assuming an average $3.50 per gallon fuel price,” Anair said.
The move to introduce truck fuel efficiency standards follows federal steps to tighten fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks.
--Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.