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Blue Cars :: Proposed Rule for Big Trucks Aims at Cutting Fuel Emissions

The Obama administration on Friday introduced a major climate change regulation intended to reduce planet-warming carbon pollution from heavy-duty trucks. The rule, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department, is the latest in a march of pollution constraints that President Obama has put forth on different sectors of the economy as he seeks to make tackling climate change a cornerstone of his legacy. The proposed rule is meant to increase the fuel efficiency of the vast rigs that haul goods as varied as steel, timber and oil, as well as packages from The regulations will also set emissions targets for other types of trucks larger than light-duty pickups, like delivery vehicles, dump trucks and buses. David Key’s new Ford F-150 pickup, with a V6 engine and aluminum body, has better mileage and more power than his old F-150.Wheels: For Automakers, Fuel Economy Targets May Be Less of a StretchJUNE 18, 2015 The national emissions lab in Ann Arbor, Mich. Proposals for fuel economy in big trucks are expected to require innovation.E.P.A. Proposal Will Put Bigger Trucks on a Fuel DietMAY 30, 2015 In his first term, Mr. Obama outlined rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and trucks. The new rule further increases the fuel-efficiency requirements for trucks. In the months ahead, the E.P.A. is expected to release a final set of climate change rules on curbing pollution from power plants. And this month, the agency proposed a legal step that could lead to regulating emissions from airplane engines. “Once upon a time, to be pro-environment you had to be anti-big-vehicles,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This rule will change that. In fact, these efficiency standards are good for the environment — and the economy. When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down.” Environmentalists cheered the proposal, but the reaction among truck manufacturers was mixed. Some say they will be able to adapt to the new standards, but others say it will require expensive new technology and may pose a challenge. The proposal announced on Friday will be open to public comment. The E.P.A., in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is expected to release a final version of the rule next year. The rule will apply to trucks built from 2019 to 2027. The E.P.A. estimates that will achieve reductions of one billion tons of greenhouse gases and save about 1.8 billion barrels of oil and $170 billion in fuel costs. The new standards will require truck manufacturers to increase their fuel efficiency by about a third, up from the current average of about six miles a gallon. The E.P.A. estimates the cost of improving vehicle fuel-efficiency technology will be $10,000 to $12,000 per vehicle for the largest trucks and somewhat less for smaller trucks, but the agency estimates that those costs will be recouped by fuel savings in less than two years. “Making our trucks go farther on less fuel will limit climate change and oil dependency, while saving consumers and businesses money, and spurring innovation,” said Rhea Suh, the head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. “We will be pushing the administration to require compliance sooner, in order to deliver these benefits more quickly.” David J. Friedman, deputy administrator at the traffic safety agency, said in an interview this month that the new truck rules could stand as “one of the president’s signature achievements.” He said big trucks had an “outsize impact” on greenhouse gases because of the millions of miles they travel, while still getting relatively paltry fuel economy. That winds up hurting not only trucking companies because of high fuel costs, Mr. Friedman said, but also consumers in the form of higher prices passed along for goods they buy. “Most people probably don’t think about how that cool new phone or shipment from Amazon got to their house, but it has a big impact on the climate and on your wallet,” he said. The trucking industry over all is somewhat divided over the coming regulations. Certain manufacturers, like Volvo and Freightliner, are skeptical of aspects of the proposal, particularly how engines will be evaluated along with entire trucks. Others, like Cummins and Wabash National, have lined up behind the agencies’ plans. In recent months, officials at both agencies have conducted dozens of meetings with industry players in an attempt to smooth the way toward acceptance of the new rules, and they contend that their goal is to make not just an environmental case for them, but a business case as well. “The beauty of the proposal is that the cost of the necessary improvements, which are generally off-the-shelf technologies, will be paid for by the savings associated with the increased fuel efficiency — about one-third better than today — in a matter of a couple of years,” said William Becker, director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Getting there, however, will not be simple, and many of the easy-to-achieve solutions, like low-resistance tires, have already been put into place by the industry. The E.P.A. is completing a new “truck treadmill” testing lab in Michigan specifically intended to handle the testing of big rigs and to guide development of the new regulations. David Haugen, director of the lab’s testing and advanced technology division, said the parts for the device arrived from Germany this year in 11 large shipping containers. The components required special cranes to lift them into place as workers assembled the machine. Now in final testing, the truck lab can handle big trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds and is a significant improvement from the previous capability, when regulators were limited to testing the big trucks’ engines alone.
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