EPA Defends Emission Standards for Trucks

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency rejected a petition to reconsider its emissions standards for trucks and other heavy vehicles.
     Last September, the EPA issued final rules for greenhouse gas emissions from medium and heavy-duty vehicles, including tractors, trucks, vans, and vocational vehicles, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Department of Transportation issued rules for fuel consumption for those vehicles.
     The national program was “designed to address the urgent and closely intertwined challenges of reduction of dependence on oil, achievement of energy security, and amelioration of global climate change,” the EPA said.
     The company Plant Oil Powered Diesel Fuel Systems (POP) last November petitioned the EPA to reconsider its greenhouse standards, claiming it did not adequately consider the “rebound effect” of the rulemaking.
     “The greenhouse gas standards will have the effect of making diesel engines less expensive to operate on petroleum fuel, which may, in fact, spur demand and have the result of increasing overall energy consumption and likely, consumption of fossil fuels,” POP argued in its petition.
     The company also said the EPA did not consider ways in which “embedded energy” and “frontier” rebound effects would occur.
     “Embedded energy” is increased energy use from the creation of new goods and services, and “frontier” energy is the creation of new, energy-intense products.
     The EPA noted that POP had an opportunity to present all of its objections during the rulemaking process.
     The agency also rejected the company’s argument that the indirect effects of the rule would outweigh its benefits, and wrote, “It appears highly improbable that all of the GHG emissions benefits of this rule would be negated by putative indirect rebound effects. As discussed in the proposed and final rules, all of the fuel costs savings will not necessarily be passed through to the consumer in terms of cheaper goods and services. First, there may be market barriers that impede trucking companies from passing along the fuel cost savings from the rule in the form of lower rates. Second, there are upfront vehicle costs (and potentially transaction or transition costs associated with the adoption of new technologies) that would partially offset some of the fuel cost savings from our rule, thereby limiting the magnitude of the impact on prices of final goods and services.”
     The EPA also rejected what it called “the major premise” of POP’s petition; that it was arbitrary for the agency not to establish emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles based on their technology and fuel use.
     “Only where the vehicle or engine technology inherently demands a certain type of fuel do the standards account for that fuel use, by specifying the calculation procedure used to determine tailpipe emissions,” the agency wrote.
     “This is the case with electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, where the technology itself necessitates use of electricity rather than petroleum-based fuels. Unlike [those vehicles], there is nothing inherent in a diesel engine that compels use of the POP Diesel product. Therefore, a standard premised on that product’s use would presuppose or require a market outcome which need not occur and would be infeasible and arbitrary.”

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