New federal big-rig standards promise to cut emissions by 25%, save owners $170 billion

August 17, 2016

There's been plenty of talk about the Environmental Protection Agency and its ambitious fuel economy goals for 2025. But those standards only apply to light-duty passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs: what about tractor trailers and other heavy-duty vehicles, which use billions of gallons of gasoline and emit 20 percent of transportation-related greenhouse gases?

The timing of that question couldn't be better. Yesterday, the Obama administration announced new standards for big rigs and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including some aggressive fuel efficiency targets and lower emissions caps.

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The standards build upon previous regulations that set increasingly high benchmarks for vehicles from the 2014 to 2018 model years. According to the EPA, those rules alone stand to save vehicle owners more than $50 billion in fuel costs and cut CO2 emissions by some 270 million metric tons.

The proposal announced yesterday goes significantly further, calling for 2.5 percent improvements in efficiency every year between model years 2021 and 2027. By the end of that period, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles should be at least 25 percent more efficient than those from 2018. 

What's the payoff? According to the White House:

  • 1.1 billion fewer tons of CO2 pollution (roughly equivalent to parking all U.S. cars for a full year)
  • $170 billion in fuel savings for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle owners
  • 84 billion fewer gallons of oil consumed
  • $230 billion in net benefits to America, including improvements to public health

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The administration is also offering to help manufacturers of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles meet these new regulations. It's doing so with a $140 million fund to encourage new research and investments in cleaner energy technology.

By the EPA's calculations, for every $1 the U.S. spends on implementing these standards, it will receive $8 in benefits. 

For more information, check out the EPA's short video above, or dig into complete details here.

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