By Alyssa Moir, Marten Law Group PLLC
In this Emerging Issues Commentary, Alyssa Moir writes that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) have jointly proposed the first-ever fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which if adopted would raise fuel efficiency requirements ranging from seven to 20 percent depending on the vehicle category. EPA claims the proposed standards have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 250 million metric tons and save approximately 500 million barrels of oil over the life of vehicles sold during 2014 to 2018. The program has received positive reactions from both the American Trucking Association and environmentalists, as well as qualified support from truck and engine manufacturing associations.
“Transportation sources emitted 29 percent of all U.S. GHG emissions in 2007 and have been the fastest-growing source of U.S. GHG emissions since 1990. In May 2009, the Obama administration addressed these emissions in part by finalizing tighter standards for fuel efficiency and setting limits on GHG emissions for cars and light trucks. Those rules will begin to take effect with the 2012 model year, assuming they survive pending legal challenges. Now, EPA and NHTSA are focusing on the heavy-duty sector, which accounted for nearly six percent of all U.S. GHG emissions and 20 percent of transportation GHG emissions in 2007.
“EPA is proposing emissions standards for carbon dioxide (CO2) and NHTSA is proposing fuel consumption standards under each agency's respective authorities covering model years 2014–2018. For purposes of these proposed rules, the heavy-duty fleet includes all on-road vehicles rated at a gross vehicle weight at or above 8,500 pounds, and the engines that power them, excluding sport utility vehicles, vans with less than a 13-person capacity, and half-ton pickups. EPA's rule also proposes to include RVs and motor homes, while NHTSA's proposed rule does not.
“The new proposed standards are tailored to three vehicle categories: (1) combination tractors; (2) heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans; and (3) vocational vehicles. EPA is additionally proposing standards for air conditioning-related emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) from pickups, vans and tractors; as well as nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) standards applicable to all heavy-duty engines, pickups and vans.”
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Alyssa Moir of the Marten Law Group practices environmental and land use litigation with a focus on renewable energy, climate change issues, hazardous waste cleanup, and permitting in the Pacific Northwest. Alyssa earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Washington School of Law where she served on the Editorial Board of the Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal and provided pro bono services through the Environmental Law Clinic. Prior to joining the Marten Law Group, Alyssa was a law clerk to the Honorable Marlin J. Appelwick, Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 1.