(CN) — The federal government finalized standards Tuesday to cut emissions and improve fuel efficiency of the nation’s fleet of big rigs and medium-duty trucks, as called for under President Barack Obama’s climate action plan.
The new standards cleared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners about $170 billion in fuel costs, and reduce oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.
“The actions we take today on climate change will help lessen the impacts on future generations,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “This next phase of standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while driving innovation, and will ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in developing fuel-efficient technologies through the next decade and beyond.”
Big rigs account for about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector. Globally, greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty vehicles are expected to surpass emissions from passenger vehicles by 2030. The United States is working with other major economies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve global energy and climate security by reducing its reliance on oil.
The vehicle and engine performance standards would apply to big rigs, large pickup trucks and vans, and all buses and work trucks — including school buses and garbage trucks — manufactured in 2021 through 2027.
The final standards achieve 10 percent great reductions of greenhouse gases and fuel consumption over what was initially proposed, and has more robust compliance provisions including improved test procedures, enhanced enforcement audits and protection against defeat devices.
The program includes more stringent diesel engine standards, and allows manufacturers to choose their own technology mix and gives them the lead time needed to ensure those technologies are reliable and durable.
Today’s final rule builds on the fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards already in place for model years 2014-2018, which alone will result in CO2 emissions reductions of 270 million metric tons and save vehicle owners more than $50 billion in fuel costs.
Truck sales were up in model years 2014 and 2015, the years covered under the first round of standards. The new rule also builds on standards that the Obama administration has put in place for light-duty vehicles.
“Today’s ambitious but achievable announcement is a huge win for the American people, giving us cleaner air, more money saved at the pump, and real benefits for consumers across the supply chain,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Today’s action preserves flexibility for manufacturers to deliver on these objectives through a range of innovations and technology pathways.”
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