New Emissions Standards Proposed for Trucks, Buses
By: RACHEL CANELLI
Bucks County Courier Times
The public has 60 days to comment on the new rules.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday announced the first proposed national emissions and fuel standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses.
That's good news for Bucks residents since the county is part of a region, including Philadelphia, that doesn't meet federal health standards for pollution. In a 2007 American Lung Association report, Philadelphia was ranked as the worst metropolitan area in the country for ozone pollution and Bucks' air quality received an "F" grade.
"This will help improve air quality," said Eric Cheung, senior attorney with the Clean Air Council in Philadelphia.
The new required improvements will apply to 2014 to 2018 models of combination tractors, heavy-duty pickups and vans, and vocational vehicles. The EPA has had similar standards in place for cars since the 1970s, officials said.
"These new standards are another step in our work to develop a new generation of clean, fuel-efficient American vehicles that will improve our environment and strengthen our economy," EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement.
The agencies are proposing engine and vehicle standards starting for 2014 combination tractor models to achieve up to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and fuel use by the 2018 model year.
Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans would have separate gas and diesel standards, which would be phased in beginning on 2014 models for a 10 percent reduction for gas vehicles and 15 percent for diesel by 2018 models.
For vocational vehicles, the groups recommend engine and vehicle standards in the 2014 model year to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by the 2018 model year.
The program is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the first five years of the new changes, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Medium and heavy trucks represent only 4 percent of vehicles on the road but consume 20 percent of oil and emit 20 percent of the pollution. Since the early 1990s, the trucking industry has grown by more than 50 percent, representing about 70 percent of the country's distribution needs, the council reported.
Drivers could save anywhere from 7 percent to 20 percent on fuel costs. For example, the EPA estimates that an operator of a semi truck could save as much as $74,000 over the life of a truck.
The public has 60 days to comment on the new rules by visiting www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy, or www.epa.gov/otag/climate/regulations.htm. Truck and bus drivers should start to notice the changes by 2014, but many vehicles today already meet the new standards, said Cheung.
Bill Graves, president and CEO of American Trucking Associations, said in a statement that his organization supports the standards.
"We believe that the proposed regulations + are feasible and can be attained through technologies currently available to motor carriers," he said. "We are encouraged that the draft proposal takes into account the wide diversity of operations within our industry and the need to build flexibility into the rulemaking process."
Rachel Canelli can be reached at 215-949-4191 or rcanelli@phillyBurbs.com