First-ever Fuel Efficiency and Carbon Pollution Standards for Heavy Trucks Move Closer to Adoption

This week, the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency took one of the final steps toward adopting the first-ever standards to improve fuel-efficiency and cut carbon pollution from highway trucks by seeking final approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget. This is a welcome development toward cleaning up our freight transport and easing the pain at the pump for truckers and businesses.

With diesel fuel prices hovering around $4 per gallon—about a dollar more than one year ago—stronger standards couldn’t come at a more important time. By making trucks more efficient, the standards give the truckers the tools they need to save on fuel.

As I’ve said before, heavy trucks and buses are the energy hogs of America’s roadways, but they don’t have to be. Well-known technologies can make trucks, including construction-site pickup trucks, delivery vans, transit buses, garbage trucks and long-haul 18-wheelers, go further on a gallon of fuel. Engine and transmission improvements, fuel-efficient tires and aerodynamic styling can all deliver significant savings at the pump for drivers and for the companies that depend on them to move their products. According to the agencies’ original proposal, a $6,000 up-front investment in a long-haul tractor-trailer rig can result in fuel savings of over $73,000 over the life of the truck.

The standards are good for the truck manufacturers and jobs too. The standards, which initially cover model years 2014 to 2018, give the industry needed certainty to invest in cleaner, fuel-savings technologies. Adding more technology to trucks means more jobs to build and install the equipment. And just like in the automobile industry, strong U.S. standards can make U.S. manufacturers world leaders in innovation.

Truck standards are an important part of a suite of policies that can dramatically cut U.S. oil consumption and meet the Obama Administration’s goal of reducing imports by one-third by 2025. Trucks consume more than 2 million barrels of oil a day, or roughly 20 percent of all transportation fuels so it’s very important that these initial truck standards get finalized as expected in July.

The work is not done, however. EPA, DOT and the California Air Resources Board expect to propose new fuel economy and carbon pollution standards in September for cars and light trucks, which consume about 60 percentof the petroleum used in the transportation sector. To meet the Administration’s oil reduction goals and save automobile drivers the most money at the pump, the agencies should follow the new truck standards with car standards that reach 60 mpg in 2025.