Friday, February 28, 2020

EPA fuel standard's success up to truckers, says ATA

The time has come for heavy vehicles to improve fuel efficiency, said the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The new efficiency standards would slash greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion metric tons, would reduce oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels and would lower fuel expenditures by $710 billion over the life of vehicles sold under this standard.

“The No. 2 source (of greenhouse emissions) is the transportation sector, with medium- and heavy-duty trucks making up about a fifth of transportation emissions while only comprising about 5 percent of the vehicles on US roads,” said Dan Welch, a Transportation Fellow at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

This isn’t the first rule of its kind. The EPA passed a similar rule in 2011 for model years 2014 through 2018 which has been fairly successful. Though the new plan is more ambitious, it is founded on this experience.

“The industry has already been improving its technologies and will continue to do so,” said Welch.

While fuel efficiency standards are a compliance burden on vehicle manufacturers, the shipping industry remains cautiously optimistic as well.

“The regulations aren’t directed at fleets. The regulations are directed at manufacturers,” said Glen Kedzie, Energy and Environmental Counsel for the American Trucking Associations. “With that being said, the rule is going to live or die on the shoulders of the fleets.”

An estimated 15 million trucks carry goods around the United States, and the rule relies on these vehicles’ owners upgrading to newer technology in the implementation window from 2021 to 2027. Without buy-in from the shipping fleets, the manufactures will find hitting their targets difficult if not impossible.

“We have total control over the success or failure of this regulation,” said Kedzie.

Early on, at least, the industry is optimistic. However, the farther-out milestones make the ATA increasingly uncomfortable. The later milestones they anticipate will be at higher cost for less benefit as opposed to the immediate solutions which are far easier to support.

“We’re dealing a bit with the unknown here,” said Kedzie. “We know what the proposed numbers are, we know what the likely pathway is to get there but the uncertainty increases as we move further down that timeline in terms of cost, reliability and durability.”

And the transportation industry, Kedzie said, does not like dealing with the unknown.

Organizations in this Story

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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