Last Tuesday, President Obama announced that the next phase of fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy trucks will begin development. The President made the announcement in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, at a distribution center for the grocery store chain, Safeway.
“The goal we are setting is ambitious,” Obama said of his plans. “But these are areas where ambition has worked out really well for us so far.”
As part of the announcement, Obama ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop and issue the new fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 31, 2016. This would allow the standards to be issued before Obama leaves office.
This comes after the first phase of standards, finalized in 2011, that required new models of heavy duty vehicles to achieve a 20% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans were required to achieve a 15% reduction, and delivery trucks, buses and garbage trucks were required to achieve a 10% reduction. The Obama administration estimates that these phase one standards will save owners and operators $50 billion in fuel costs.
“Every time someone says you can’t grow the economy while bringing down pollution, it turns out they’ve been wrong,” Obama said. “Anybody who says we can’t compete when it comes to clean energy technologies — like solar and wind — they’ve had to eat those words.”
Tax credits are available for manufacturers of heavy duty alternative fuel vehicles as well as companies building facilities to allow for alternative vehicles to fill up.
Even though heavy duty vehicles only make up 4% of registered vehicles in the US, they account for about 25% of road-fuel use and of transportation related greenhouse gases. This second phase of fuel standards will hopefully do more to reduce these emissions.