Resources Government Related Articles EPA, U.S. DOT Announce Proposed Rule to Reduce Commercial Fleet GHGs, Improve Fuel Economy
EPA, U.S. DOT Announce Proposed Rule to Reduce Commercial Fleet GHGs, Improve Fuel Economy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ryan Gray   
Monday, 25 October 2010 09:59

School buses are just one type of medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicle being targeted by a "historic" attempt by the EPA and NHTSA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to improve fuel efficiency beginning with the model year 2014.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the proposed rule based on a directive issued by President Obama in May. Previously, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE rules rules first enacted by Congress in 1975 have only extended to passenger cars and trucks. Now, the feds aim to reduce GHG emissions by some 250 million metric tons and to save approximately 500 million barrels of oil during the life cycles of medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles sold between 2014 and 2018. The EPA estimates that transportation accounts for about 72 percent of U.S. domestic oil usage, and heavy-duty vehicles account for 17 percent of that petroleum.

During a conference call with national media, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that, in addition to cutting greenhouse gas pollution, greater fuel economy will shrink fuel costs for small businesses utilizing many of the same technologies already on the market, such as more efficient tires, reduced idling equipment and advanced transmission. She also said manufacturers will be spurred to identify the most effective technologies, like reducing vehicle weight and coming up with more fuel efficient vehicle design.

"Those savings can be invested in new jobs at home, rather than heading overseas and increasing our dependence on foreign oil," she added.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood added that the proposed rule is a "win-win" for the environment, businesses and consumers alike.

While the proposed rule also contains incentive provisions for electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, absent is any mention of natural gas vehicles.

“It is unfortunate and disappointing that this administration has not included incentives for natural gas powered trucks,” said Richard Kolodziej, president of NGVAmerica. “The rules are designed to address the urgent and closely intertwined challenges of dependence on oil, energy security and global climate changes, and natural gas vehicles do just that and more."

School buses fall under the category of vocational vehicles, one of three categories of heavy trucks being targeted by EPA and NHTSA, the other two being combination tractors and heavy-duty pickups and vans. For vocational vehicles, the agencies are proposing engine and vehicle standards starting in the 2014 model year which would achieve up to a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by the 2018 model year. Light heavy class 3 through 5 vehicles would need to meet EPA's goal 344g of CO2 emissions per ton-mile by the 2017 model year and NHTSA's fuel consumption standard of 33.8 gallons per 1,000 ton-mile. The targets fall to 204g of CO2 and 20 gallons for class 6 and 7 vehicles and 107g of CO2 and 10.5 gallons for class 8 vehicles.

Other examples of vocational vehicles are delivery; refuse; utility; dump; cement; transit bus; shuttle bus; emergency vehicles; motor homes; and tow trucks.

Meanwhile, combination tractors would need to achieve a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, and heavy-duty pickups and vans would need to meet a 15 percent reduction in CO2 levels and fuel usage.

"While not a new concept to diesel engine and truck manufacturers, pursuit of greater fuel efficiency has always been a key driver of product development to meet customer demands," commented Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "As we learn more about the details of the proposal, it is expected that the proposed rule will likely expand the deployment of existing technologies and demand further innovation that recognizes the unique considerations of the trucking industry and commercial heavy-duty applications."

“While it’s too soon to evaluate all elements of the proposed regulations, we are committed to engaging with the EPA and DOT on this issue," said Daniel C. Ustian, Navistar chairman, president and chief executive officer. "We look forward to working together with government and industry leaders in the months ahead to implement changes that will benefit the customers and communities we serve with cleaner, more fuel efficient commercial vehicles.”

The EPA is also proposing standards for N2O and CH4 emissions that could contribute to global warming conditions more so than CO2. EPA’s proposed standards would act to cap emissions to ensure that manufacturers do not allow the N2O and CH4 emissions of their future engines to increase significantly above the currently controlled low levels. EPA Administrator Jackson said the rule would especially target air conditioning leaks as HFC refrigerants are powerful GHG pollutants. EPA is proposing a standard of 1.5 percent refrigerant leakage per year.

Manufacturers would have options for meeting the new standards through the use of credits, but they would not be allowed to be transferred across the three categories of vehicles. Engine manufacturers could use CO2 credits to offset CH4 or N20 emissions that exceed the standard. The agencies are also proposing three additional optional credit opportunities.

The first is an early credit option intended for manufacturers who demonstrate improvements in excess of a proposed standard prior to the model year that it becomes effective. The second is a credit program intended to promote implementation of advanced technologies, such as hybrid powertrains, Rankine cycle engines and electric or fuel cell vehicles. The last credit would apply to new and innovative technologies that reduce vehicle CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, but for which the benefits are not captured over the test procedure used to determine compliance with the standards, such as "off-cycle."

A 60-day public comment period on Dockets No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0162 and No. NHTSA-2010-0079 coinciding with Jan. 3, 2011 was set to begin with the notice of proposed rulemaking was published on the Federal Register.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 May 2011 08:20