EPA and DOT Finalize Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles

Washington D.C. – On Aug. 16, 2016 the U.S. EPA along with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued their final regulations for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that would improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution to reduce the impacts of climate change, while bolstering energy security and spurring manufacturing innovation.

The final phase two program promotes a new generation of cleaner, more fuel efficient trucks by encouraging the development and deployment of new and advanced cost-effective technologies. The product of four years of extensive testing and research, the vehicle and engine performance standards would cover model years 2018-2027 for certain trailers and model years 2021-2027 for semi-trucks, large pickup trucks, vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks. The final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.

The Phase 2 standards are fully aligned between EPA and NHTSA, and agencies have worked closely with the California Air Resources Board to create a program that CARB can adopt, resulting in a truly national program that will allow manufacturers to continue to build a single fleet of vehicle and engines for the U.S. market.

CARB pushed aggressively for the adoption of an ultra-low NOX engine standard in Phase 2. They were unsuccessful in having that adopted despite their many threats to “go it alone.” In order to placate CARB and get their qualified support for this new final rule U.S. EPA is promising a “Phase 3” rule that would implement CARB’s desired ultra-low NOx engine standard.

Combination Tractors

Class 7 and 8 combination tractors standards start in model year 2021 and are completely phased in by model year 2027. Manufacturers will need to meet these standards through engine improvements such as controlling parasitic HP loss from engine fans and alternators, transmission, driveline improvements, and aerodynamic design, lower rolling resistance tires, and extended idle reduction technologies (APU’s will be required  to have DPF’s).

Vocational Trucks

Vehicles being regulated include cement and dump trucks. The agencies project that the vocational vehicle standards could be met through improvements in the engine, transmission, driveline, lower rolling resistance tires, workday idle reduction technologies, weight reduction, and some application of hybrid technology.

Trailers

CO2 emissions can only be reduced by improving fuel economy hence the Phase 2 rule basically is the nationalization of CARB’s existing tractor-trailer GHG rule. Phase 2 brings trailer manufacturers under the regulatory boot of U.S. EPA beginning in model year 2018. Trailer standards will apply to box vans, flatbeds, tankers, and container chassis. Technologies that can be used to meet the standards include: aerodynamic devices, lower rolling resistance tires, automatic tire inflation systems, and weight reduction (sound familiar – it’s mostly CARB’s current rule).

Glider kits

EPA is slamming the door on using gliders as a work-around to emissions regulations.  EPA believes the increase in glider kit sales is a growing environmental concern. To give a sense of scale, annual glider sales now represent roughly 2% of the Class 8 vehicles manufactured annually, and yet may account for as much as one-half of total NOx and PM emissions from all new Class 8 vehicles. Put another way, at current production rates, the contribution of NOx and PM emissions from gliders alone would nearly double the emissions of these pollutants from the entire Class 8 fleet.

EPA is proposing new requirements beginning January 1, 2018 that would generally require engines installed in new gliders to meet the same requirements as new emissions-compliant engines – both for GHGs and for other harmful pollutants such as NOx and PM.  For example, if a glider was produced in 2020, it could use any engine that met the standards for model year 2020 engines.  This could be an earlier model year engine that was originally subject to the same requirements, such as a model year 2018 engine.  Beginning in model year 2021, Phase 2 standards for heavy duty vehicles would also apply to gliders.

Cost – Benefit Analysis

In the NHTSA press release announcing these new rules they claim, “The final phase two program promotes a new generation of cleaner, more fuel efficient trucks by encouraging the wider application of currently available technologies and the development of new and advanced cost-effective technologies through model year 2027. The final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. Overall, the program will provide $230 billion in net benefits to society including benefits to our climate and the public health of Americans. These benefits outweigh costs by about an 8 to 1 ratio.”

Sure. EPA has consistently over-estimated benefits while at the same time underestimating the actual cost increases to truck buyers of their rules. We’ll go with their last made up line and reverse it; the costs outweigh benefits by about a ratio of 8-1.

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