Clean Trucks: Much Needed and Ready to Deliver

There was some good news from the U.S. Energy Information Agency recently. It found that the Clean Trucks program, which is expected to be jointly finalized this summer by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), will deliver huge carbon emission reductions.

"Kenworth truck" by Lisa M. Macias, U.S. Air Force via Wikipedia

The Clean Trucks program is designed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas pollution from the freight trucks that transport the products we buy every day, as well as buses, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and garbage trucks. The program’s first performance standards went into effect in 2014. The EPA and DOT are currently developing a second phase of performance standards. Strong standards can help keep Americans safe from climate change and from unhealthy air pollution, reduce our country’s reliance on imported oil, and save money for both truckers and consumers.

Without the Clean Trucks program, big trucks are on pace to increase emissions more than nearly any other end-use source of emissions between 2014 and 2040.

The proposed program charts a new course. The overall impact is 1.5 billion metric tons avoided (including upstream) through 2040.

The final program, which is currently being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, is expected to be announced this summer. EDF and a broad collation of clean air advocates, consumer groups, equipment manufacturers, trucking fleets, and freight shippers have called for the EPA and DOT to finalize strong standards.

Traffic Light TrucksIt is well documented that fuel-saving solutions for heavy trucks exist today and can be cost-effectively deployed over the coming decade. Moreover, making trucks more fuel efficient will reduce lifecycle costs for truckers, freight shippers and consumers. We understand that stringent long-term fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards are necessary to overcome a range of barriers that prevent cost-effective solutions from reaching scale.

We are hopeful that the overall emissions savings from the Clean Trucks program will be even greater than expected benefits modeled in EIA’s analysis. EDF and others have called on the agencies to reduce new truck fuel consumption by 40 percent by model year 2025 beyond 2010 levels. This would increase annual emission reductions by an additional 40 million tons annually in 2035.

Others see the potential for greater efficiency levels, too:

The proposed Clean Truck program is a critical milestone on the journey to the truly transformative emission reductions we need from the freight sector. As we noted in 2013, trucks were on the path to account for 80 percent of the growth of freight emissions by 2040. The Clean Trucks program is set to offset this growth and start us on the long-term path towards substantial emission reductions.

This is indeed an achievement worthy of celebrating.