Today, President Obama directed the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency, working with environmental, state and industrial stakeholders, to adopt the nation’s first greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for medium and heavy trucks.
Freight trucks cover just 9 percent of miles on U.S. roads but consume 20 percent of the oil used in the transportation sector, or over 2 million barrels of oil per day. They also emit about 20 percent of transportation sector global warming pollution.
New standards for medium and heavy trucks will promote adoption of existing technologies and promote new efficiency investments. The Department of Energy is already investing in next-generation fuel-saving technologies for trucks. The EPA leads the voluntary SmartWay program to certify clean and efficient truck technology and help finance truck upgrades. While these programs are important, the new standards ensure the new technologies move into the marketplace broadly.
According to a recent technology assessment from the National Academies of Science, technologies available before 2020 can cut fuel consumption across truck classes by more than 40 percent. Another recent report demonstrates that fuel consumption from new, long-haul tractor trailers—the biggest diesel guzzlers in the truck world—can be lowered by 20 percent in 2012 and as much as 50 percent in 2017.
Fuel-saving technologies are also good for the economy. Less fuel consumption means less money spent on fuel, lowering shipping costs for the goods we all purchase. The heavy truck standards announced today would cover model years 2014 to 2018. If the full technical potential is realized, long-haul truckers, for example, would save tens of thousands of dollars in annual fuel costs. Those fuel savings offset the incremental cost of the new technologies and result in net savings to the truck owners and operators. New technologies, if made here in the U.S., also provide American jobs. As I’ve discussed before, putting new fuel-saving technologies on cars can provide jobs in the auto sector; the same applies to truck manufacturing.
The standards announced today are complimentary to comprehensive energy and climate legislation that will put the U.S. on the path to a clean energy economy. The House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act helps speed adoption of new truck technologies by expanding the EPA’s SmartWay program. The Senate has the opportunity to add the same provision and accelerate cuts in oil dependence, help cool the planet and cut delivery costs of goods that we all depend on.