Passenger cars and light-duty trucks will be subjected to stringent new emission standards in the near future. Heavy-duty vehicles are not being left out of the mix and will have their own regulations intended to slowly lead to cleaner vehicles delivering goods across the nation. That's a good thing.
However, there is dispute over how best to achieve the goal of cleaning up the nation's fleet of heavy-duty vehicles. On one hand, the Environmental Protection Agency believes that regulating emissions is the best way to clean up the notoriously dirty vehicles. On the other hand, research shows that a fuel tax may be the best answer.

A report released by the National Research Council (NRC) concludes that a fuel tax is is the simplest, most efficient way to reach clean air goals. The study finds that, while regulations on future heavy-duty vehicles is certainly beneficial, the regulations will have virtually no impact on the hundreds of thousands of old, inefficient heavy-duty vehicles that are likely to remain on our roads for decades.

The NRC study shows that a fuel tax would force companies to be efficient in planning routes, delivering items and driving in a manner that conserves fuel. The fuel tax would also affect all heavy-duty vehicles, no matter how old or outdated. Another reason for the NRC to suggest a fuel tax rather than strong regulations is cost. The NRC report shows that new, efficient, high-tech diesel engines costs on average $23,000 more than gasoline engines. In an industry where profit margins are slim, footing this additional upfront cost is not easy and it's argued that since a fuel tax is spread out through the life of the vehicle, the costs are easier to cope with. Whether it's a fuel tax or stringent regulations, one thing is certain, the nation's fleet of dirty, workhorses will have to clean up their act soon.

[Source: National Research Council, Green Car Advisor]


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