EPA, DOT Seek First U.S. Truck Fuel Efficiency Standards

October 27, 2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced on October 25 the first U.S. standards to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses, beginning with the model year 2014. The standards are projected to reduce emissions by about 250 million metric tons and to save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program's first five years. The heavy-duty sector, from the largest pickups to 18-wheelers, emits about 20% of U.S. transportation emissions, according to the EPA.

EPA and DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are proposing new standards for three categories of heavy trucks: combination tractors (the semi trucks that typically pull trailers), heavy-duty pickups and vans, and vocational vehicles. For combination tractors, the agencies are proposing engine and vehicle standards that begin in the 2014 model year and achieve up to 20% reductions in both CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by 2018 model year. For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, the agencies are seeking separate gasoline and diesel truck standards, which phase in starting in the 2014 model year and achieve up to 10% reductions for gasoline vehicles and 15% reductions for diesel vehicles by 2018 model year. Lastly, for vocational vehicles, EPA and DOT are requesting engine and vehicle standards starting in the 2014 model year that would achieve up to 10% reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 2018 model year.

The technologies fostered by this program would also yield economic benefits, enhance energy security, and improve air quality. Such new technologies include widespread use of aerodynamic improvements and decreased tire rolling resistance, as well as engine and transmission upgrades. EPA and NHTSA are providing a 60-day comment period that begins when the proposal is published in the Federal Register. As part of the process of developing this proposed rulemaking, NHTSA has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed fuel efficiency standards. The draft EIS compares the environmental impacts of the agency's proposal with those of a number of regulatory alternatives. Comments may be submitted on the draft EIS through January 3, 2011, and information on the submission of comments for this document may be found at the NHTSA Web site. See the EPA press release, the proposed regulations and standards, and the NHTSA Corporate Average Fuel Economy Web site.