Trucking associations voice support for national fuel efficiency standards

Nov. 16, 2010
At EPA, NHTSA public hearing

The trucking industry reaffirmed its support of national fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for heavy and medium duty trucks while testifying yesterday in Chicago at the first of two public hearings conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Speaking on behalf of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Illinois Trucking Association (ITA), an ATA affiliate, ITA associate director Randy Thomas said the trucking industry is “pleased to see that the rules address four of ATA’s six proactive recommendations for reducing the trucking industry’s carbon footprint contained in its 2008 Sustainability Plan - namely reducing GHG’s and improving fuel efficiency by reducing and governing truck speeds; decreasing idling; implementing national fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy duty trucks that are both economically and technologically feasible; and using off-the-shelf technologies to increase fuel efficiency verified by EPA under its GHG reduction program known as SmartWay.”

“Our industry has endorsed and participated whole-heartedly in EPA’s SmartWay program since its inception in 2004,” Thomas said. “With over 2,800 total partners driving over 650,000 trucks traveling over 60 billion miles per year, SmartWay partners have saved over 15 million metric tons of CO2, 1.5 billion gallons of diesel fuel, and over $3.5 billion in fuel costs since 2004. We stand ready to continue our work with EPA to ensure further expansion and success of the SmartWay program.”

While supportive of the proposed rules, some fleets have expressed concern that manufacturers might discontinue sales of specific engine or vehicle subcategories that fleets are accustomed to purchasing, instead of using any of the four “flexibility” approaches outlined in the proposal to assist OEMs in achieving their overall GHG and fuel efficiency targets. “Trucks deemed “less efficient” may no longer be offered for sale to purchasers that spec such equipment for their particular needs,” Thomas told EPA and NHTSA.

“The trucking industry supports the proposed rules and, like EPA and NHTSA, wants to ensure the avoidance of “unintended consequences” under the rules,” Thomas said. “One issue of concern raised by some fleets revolves around the possible increased braking distances associated with certain fuel efficient tires, particularly on rainy or icy pavement. We trust that both agencies will explore these two areas of concern further to ensure we avoid any such unintended consequences.”

The Massachusetts Motor Transportation Association, in conjunction with ATA, will submit written comments on the proposed rules to EPA and NHTSA prior to the Nov. 18 hearing in Cambridge, Mass.

The proposed standards, announced by EPA and NHTSA on Oct. 25, will be phased-in and will achieve from 7 to 20 percent reductions in GHG emissions and fuel consumption from 2010 baseline Class 8 tractors. These targets, which will be achieved from both engine and truck advancements, will largely employ off-the-shelf technologies such as low-rolling resistance tires, improved aerodynamics, reduced idling, and other measures currently recognized by EPA’s SmartWay Program. Incremental cost increases for combination tractors are projected to be $5,900 in 2014 while other truck categories are expected to see minimal price increases in the range of $200 to $400 per vehicle. Trailers are not currently being addressed in the proposal.

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