The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on July 9 announced its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the potential environmental impacts of new fuel efficiency standards for commercial medium- and heavy-duty on-highway vehicles and work trucks. The EIS wil potentially cover engines, chassis, vehicles and/or trailers manufactured after model year 2018, according to the notice published in the Federal Register.
The notice was discussed this week during the National School Transportation Association Annual Convention and Meeting in Charleston, S.C. The new standards are required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Earlier this month, NSTA commented that the notice initiates the scoping process for determining the issues to be addressed in the EIS and for identifying the significant environmental issues related to the proposed action. Comments on this notice are due on Aug. 8.
Phase 1 of the CAFE program for medium- and heay-duty vehicles was announced in 2011. It established separate standards for each of the vehicle classes as well as standards for the engines powering vocational vehicles and combination tractors. Phase 2 of the proposal may include post–model year (MY) 2018 engine and vehicle fuel efficiency standards that are more stringent than those for MY 2016-2018, as well as regulatory standards and certification requirements for previously unregulated new trailers pulled by semi-tractors.
NSTA said school buses are covered as Class 2b-8 Vocational Vehicle Chassis. Specific to this class, Phase 1 created a new vehicle certification and compliance program for vocational chassis manufacturers that relies on computer simulation of vehicle CO2 emissions and fuel consumption rather than on emissions testing.
NHTSA, in consultation with the EPA, is still evaluating the costs and effectiveness of the various technologies available, the potential structure of the program, the stringencies of potential alternatives covering each regulatory category and the range of reasonable alternatives for consideration in this rulemaking and EIS. NHTSA will evaluate several factors in developing alternatives for consideration and analysis, including costs for technology development and manufacture, costs that will be paid by heavy-duty vehicle owners and operators, fuel efficiency (and corresponding GHG reduction) benefits, industry structure and more.