WASHINGTON, DC – More than a hundred mayors, city councilors, and fleet managers from across the country support tough new fuel efficiency standards for heavyweight vehicles, according to a letter submitted today to the Obama administration before the close of a public comment period.
Signed by officials representing some pockets of America most vulnerable to global warming—from Shishmaref, Alaska to South Miami, Florida—the letter calls the proposed truck standards “an important pathway for progress in making our air healthier to breathe while safeguarding the climate.”
“So many local officials have a lot to lose from the dangerous consequences of climate change, but a lot to gain from more fuel-efficient trucks and buses," said Aminah Zaghab, Clean Cars advocate for Environment America, who organized the letter.
Eighteen-wheelers, school and transit buses, and other medium and heavy-duty vehicles account for a significant portion of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption, making up 5 percent of the vehicles on the roads but 20 percent of the pollution.
As part of his Climate Action Plan, in June President Obama proposed rules to ratchet up efficiency standards for large vehicles, whose global warming pollution is expected to surpass that of passenger cars and trucks by the end of the next decade.
In a joint announcement with President Xi Jinping on Friday, the President reaffirmed his commitment to the truck proposal, saying that the U.S. “commits to finalize its next-stage, world-class fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles.”
From rising sea levels to the impacts of extreme weather, local elected officials are frequently on the front lines of global warming’s most dangerous impacts, prompting many to support the proposed standards.
“I support all measures to reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions,” said Phillip Stoddard, a biology professor, letter signer, and mayor of South Miami, where even a foot of sea-level rise could cause major disruptions.
Local officials and fleet managers also care about fuel costs for the vehicles they maintain.
“Fuel is the largest expense for many vehicle fleets. Improvements in fuel economy represent a crucial way for government fleets to control costs while continuing to deliver exemplary service,” they wrote.
Manufacturers could make transit buses, school buses, utility trucks and other vocational vehicles nearly a third more efficient by 2025 with technology that would pay for itself in fuel savings in less than four years, according to the letter.
Together with Environment America and nearly 20,000 public comments submitted Wednesday, the letter urged the administration to adopt a final rule that achieved a 40 percent improvement for heavy trucks compared to 2010—a target that analysts show would benefit the private sector as well as the public sector by lowering the cost of consumer goods over time.
“Everyone wants to breathe clean air and save money on gas, and no one likes to worry about the safety of their kids’ future,” said Zaghab. “That's why there's such strong support for making trucks and buses more efficient and less polluting.”