From environmental groups to trucking lobbies to truck OEMs and engine makers, the reaction to yesterday’s announcement of federal regulations on fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for commercial vehicles is nearly universally positive.
The rules will take effect between 2014 and 2018 and will impose different fuel efficiency requirements on medium- and heavy-duty trucks based on the size and weight of a given vehicle type. For example, most - but not all - tractor-trailers will be required to achieve up to approximately a 20% reduction in fuel consumption and GHG emissions by model year 2018, which the government estimates will save up to 4 gals. of fuel for every 100 mi. traveled.
“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” remarked President Obama after the rules were released. “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks.”
American Trucking Assns. president & CEO Bill Graves called the new regs “welcome news to us in the trucking industry. Our members have been pushing for the setting of fuel efficiency standards for some time and today marks the culmination of those efforts.”
He noted that back in 2007, ATA endorsed a six-point sustainability program that included a proposal to set “technologically feasible” efficiency standards.
“While it is too early to know all the potential effects of this rule, we do know it sets us on the path to a future where we depend less on foreign oil, spend less on fuel and contribute less to climate change,” Graves added.
“By setting fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, we will, for the first time, be able to clean up and improve the performance of the delivery trucks, city buses and freight trucks that Americans rely on each day, clearing our air, saving truckers and businesses money at the pump, creating jobs and bringing the nation a step closer to moving beyond oil,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
Brune noted that “despite representing only 4% of all the vehicles on the road” those power units covered by the rules “consume 20% of all on-road transportation fuel used each year, but have never been subject to federal fuel efficiency or carbon pollution standards.”
He added that the MPG/GHG standards “mark an important starting point for progress beyond 2018, and by using existing technology - for example, by setting standards for heavy-duty truck trailers - we can do even more to cut our addiction to oil.”
According to Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) president Fred Krupp, the new standards “will greatly benefit America’s economy, environment and national security. It’s great to see Washington get something so right,” he stated. “Thanks to these new standards, everybody wins: truck drivers save money at the pump, America imports less foreign oil, and we all get to breathe cleaner air.”
Krupp noted that EDF “found that the projected daily oil savings from the standards, when fully implemented, are comparable to our nation’s Iraq oil imports.”
“We support the new federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency as they affect the commercial vehicles industry,” said Sean Waters, director of compliance & regulatory affairs for Daimler Trucks North America. “We have worked closely and productively with the EPA and NHTSA and look forward to continued collaboration on implementation of the new standards. DTNA and [sister firm] Detroit Diesel are on track to meet or exceed the 2014 standards and continue aggressive development of fuel efficient technologies to meet both future regulatory targets and market demand for lower operating costs.”
“Navistar commends the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for developing one single, national standard for GHG and fuel efficiency for medium- and heavy-duty engines and trucks, said Daniel C. Ustian, chairman, president & CEO. “We were pleased to be part of the process providing the agencies with information on the positive impact of total vehicle technology integration on fuel efficiency and GHG emissions.”
Ustian said Navistar has “plans in place” to deliver “integrated truck and engine technology solutions that achieve maximum fuel economy for our customers. We feel this customer-focused approach aligns Navistar with the intent of the new proposed GHG rule.”
He added that the new rules “set an example for what could be a worldwide GHG and fuel efficiency regulation for heavy duty trucks and engines.”
“The SCR trucks we have in the market today are the cleanest in the world in terms of regulated emissions,” commented Denny Slagle, president & CEO of Volvo Trucks in North America and president & CEO of Mack Trucks Inc. “Our focus moving forward is to continue improving fuel efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of both our products and operations, standing side by side with our customers in managing through the implementation of this new rule.
“While we haven’t had a chance yet to thoroughly review the final rule, we were pleased overall with the process, and the degree to which EPA and NHTSA involved and listened to the industry,” noted Slagle. “Certainly the regulation will challenge the industry, but our past success gives us confidence we’ll meet the challenge. Our focus now is on doing so in a way that minimizes any negative consequences for our customers.”
“Environmental regulations can often be difficult for industry, adding cost and complexity,” pointed out Rich Freeland, Cummins vp & president-Engine Business. “So early on Cummins set out with the goal of helping the government establish a clear, consistent, challenging and enforceable regulation that recognizes the needs of business and provides incentives to companies that create innovative technologies as well as jobs in this country.
“This regulation,” he added, “will add real value for our customers as better fuel economy lowers their operating costs while significantly benefitting the environment.”
“The emissions technologies in use today provide the foundation for meeting the 2014 standards, and Cummins is ready to meet this regulation in 2013,” stated Dr. Steve Charlton, Cummins vp and chief technical officer-Engine Business. “Certifying our engines early will deliver additional fuel economy benefits to end-user customers and provide installation stability to our OEM customers.”
“This landmark new rule envisions diesel power as the continued workhorse of freight transportation in the clean energy economy of tomorrow,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum advocacy group. “As the industry moves to meet these new standards, the diesel engine provides a strong foundation... Diesel also provides a unique technology platform suitable for expanded use of hybrid powertrains and lower-carbon renewable fuels-- both strategies for reducing GHG emissions in the future.”
The only known discordant note sounded since the rules were released comes from the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA), which called the regs “a flawed, one-size-fits-all rule.”
According to OOIDA, the rule “ignores input from small-business trucking, overlooks less expensive options to achieve EPA goals of reduced emissions, and will ultimately increase new truck costs.”
OOIDA said that “EPA made an irresponsible mistake in its regulatory analysis by excluding the impact on those who actually buy and drive large trucks and by focusing only on truck manufacturers. OOIDA says this approach will only serve to drive up the costs for the small businesses who operate an overwhelming majority of the nation’s trucking businesses.”
“They also totally overlooked the most effective fuel-savings method of all,” said Joe Rajkovacz, director of regulatory affairs. “Driver training, which is responsible for 35% of fuel economy and which costs far less than any new technology, should have been the priority.”