A big step for big trucks

By Aminah Zaghab
Global Warming Solutions Advocate

What if we could cut U.S. global warming emissions, save consumers money, and influence other countries to cut their climate-changing pollution too, all in one step?

The good news is that we can. The EPA has proposed medium and heavy-duty truck efficiency standards for 2018-2029 that will increase fuel efficiency and cut pollution, and there is time to push for a stronger rule which would provide even more environmental and social benefits.

Medium and heavy-duty vehicles include everything from school buses to large pickups. They are only 5 percent of the vehicles on the road, but cause more than 20 percent of the transportation sector’s global warming pollution. [1] The EPA’s proposed rule requires reductions in fuel consumption and would lead to 1 billion metric tons less of global warming pollution, which is about how much energy it takes to power every home in the U.S. for a year. [2] This reduction can help prevent some of the worst impacts of global warming, including premature deaths. [3] 

The rule not only helps prevent global warming effects but also saves society money. By reducing fuel consumption, vehicle owners save about $170 billion in overall fuel costs. Even large companies are on-board. Wabash National, Cummins Trucking, and PepsiCo, with a U.S. fleet of 35,000 vehicles, all support the rule. [4] The reductions save companies money, which in turn save consumers money because the vast majority of goods in the U.S. are transported by heavy-duty trucks. The EPA estimates the rule is equivalent to a $230 billion benefit to society. [2]

The rule is also internationally significant and yet another example of how the U.S is leading the charge to address global warming. President Obama and President Xi’s joint release last week mentioned heavy-duty vehicle standards. [5] Countries including Brazil, Europe, India, Mexico, and South Korea are all debating standards and will likely look to the U.S. standard in setting their own. This means a stronger U.S. standard likely leads to a stronger global standard. [6]

The proposed rule is a huge step towards cutting global warming  pollution, from school buses to big trucks, but there is no reason not to do better when you see all the potential benefits of heavy-duty fuel reduction. The science says we should implement a stronger standard sooner than the EPA proposes. [7] If we push for more fuel efficiency and emissions reductions we can amplify the many benefits of the proposed rule, preventing an additional 40 million metric tons of global warming emissions annually. [7]

The EPA can do it all. Cut global warming pollution, save consumers and businesses money, and create an international will to act on global warming. If one rule can do all of that, why wouldn’t we strengthen it and make sure that our country and our world get the maximum benefit? Let’s make it happen.

 

[1]http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/climate/documents/420f15900.pdf 
[2]http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/climate/image/med-hv-trucks-infograph.pdf 
[3]http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/premature-deaths-multiply-as-climate-changes/ 
[4]http://www.wsj.com/articles/delivering-a-greener-fleet-of-trucks-1434755861; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/20/business/energy-environment/epa-rules-carbon-pollution-heavy-trucks.html 
[5]https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/25/fact-sheet-united-states-and-china-issue-joint-presidential-statement
[6]http://www.theicct.org/news/pr-proposed-phase2-truck-efficiency-standards-19june 
[7]http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/07/proposed-heavy-duty-vehicles-standards.pdf