EPA/DOT Issue GHG and Fuel Efficiency Rules for Heavy-Duty Trucks

August 16, 2016 – EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have issued standards designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel efficiency for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.  The final rules represent the second phase of regulations on medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (the first phase applied to model years 2014-2018).  Specifically, EPA’s GHG and NHTSA’s fuel-consumption standards apply to four categories of heavy-duty vehicles: (1) Combination Tractors, which account for approximately 60 percent of total GHG emissions and fuel consumption from the heavy-duty sector; (2) Trailers (which are pulled by combination tractors and contribute significantly to the emissions and fuel consumption of tractors); (3) Heavy-duty Pickup Trucks and Vans, which account for about 23 percent of the fuel con¬sumption and GHG emissions from the heavy- and medium-duty vehicle sector; and (4) Vocational Vehicles, including all other heavy-duty vehicles such as buses, garbage trucks, and concrete mixers, which represent about 17 percent of the total medium- and heavy-duty fuel consumption.  There are also separate standards for the engines that power combination tractors and vocational vehicles.  The new vehicle and engine performance standards would apply to model years (MY) 2021-2027 for semi-trucks, large pickup trucks, vans and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks.  Additionally, for the first time, the new regulations include fuel-efficiency and GHG standards for trailers, applying to MY 2018-2027 for certain trailers.  EPA’s trailer standards, which do not include certain categories (e.g., mobile homes), take effect in MY 2018, while NHTSA’s standards take effect as of 2021, with credits for voluntary early participation.  According to EPA and NHTSA estimates, by 2027 the Phase 2 standards will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners approximately $170 billion in fuel costs and decrease oil consumption by as much as two billion barrels over the life of the vehicles affected by the regulation.  Further, the federal government estimates that the standards’ net benefits of $230 billion outweigh the costs by approximately eight to one. EPA and NHTSA worked closely together and with the state of California to harmonize standards under the program.