First-ever heavy-duty truck efficiency standards announced, will save a month's worth of oil

If you're not sure why today's announcement from the Obama Administration about the first-ever fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses is important, read this.

Okay, now that we're all on the same page, let's take a look at the new standards. These aren't specific MPG targets like passenger vehicles have. Instead, different vehicle categories have different improvement targets. The headline numbers from the EPA are that the new standards will save $50 billion in fuel costs and around 530 million barrels of oil over the life of new trucks built between 2014 and 2018.

To put that in perspective, the U.S. uses around 19 million barrels of oil a day, so we'll be saving just under a month's worth of the entire country's appetite for oil from heavy-duty trucks built during these four years.

As for the standards themselves, semi trucks are required to achieve a 20-percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gasses by 2018, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans a 15-percent reduction, and vocational vehicles (buses, garbage trucks, etc.) a 10-percent reduction. The improvements will come from mostly off-the-shelf technologies, and a second phase dealing with trucks built after 2018 will require the use of more advanced tech and save even more fuel.

Similar to the passenger car and light truck standards that were proposed the other day, initial response to the heavy-duty truck standards has been universally popular. This shouldn't be a surprise, since the administration worked with "truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the State of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders" to develop the standards. The Heavy Duty Fuel Efficiency Leadership Group, for example, endorsed the rules, which you can read for yourself, as well as more reactions, after the jump.
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White House Announces First Ever Oil Savings Standards for Heavy Duty Trucks, Buses

Saving $50 billion in fuel costs and over 500 million barrels of oil

WASHINGTON – Today, President Obama will meet with industry officials to discuss the first-of-their-kind fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles and to thank them for their leadership in finalizing a successful national program for these vehicles. This meeting marks the administration's announcement of the standards, which will save American businesses that operate and own these commercial vehicles approximately $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the standards in close coordination with the companies that met with the president today as well as other stakeholders, following requests from companies to develop this program. The cost savings for American businesses are on top of the $1.7 trillion that American families will save at the pump from the historic fuel-efficiency standards announced by the Obama Administration for cars and light duty trucks, including the model year 2017-2025 agreement announced by the president last month.

"While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened," said President Obama. "We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks. They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks. And today, I'm proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium-and heavy-duty trucks."

"Thanks to the Obama Administration, for the first time in our history we have a common goal for increasing the fuel efficiency of the trucks that deliver our products, the vehicles we use at work, and the buses our children ride to school," said DOT Secretary LaHood. "These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector, and promote energy independence for America."

"This administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe and cutting carbon pollution – and programs like these ensure that we can serve those priorities while also reducing our dependence on imported oil and saving money for drivers," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "More efficient trucks on our highways and less pollution from the buses in our neighborhoods will allow us to breathe cleaner air and use less oil, providing a wide range of benefits to our health, our environment and our economy."

Under the comprehensive new national program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons. Like the administration's historic car standards, this program – which relies heavily on off-the-shelf technologies – was developed in coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the State of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders.

The joint DOT/EPA program will include a range of targets which are specific to the diverse vehicle types and purposes. Vehicles are divided into three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (like transit buses and refuse trucks). Within each of those categories, even more specific targets are laid out based on the design and purpose of the vehicle. This flexible structure allows serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type.

The standards are expected to yield an estimated $50 billion in net benefits over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles, and to result in significant long-terms savings for vehicle owners and operators. A semi-truck operator could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year and realize net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over the truck's useful life. These cost saving standards will also reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants like particulate matter, which can lead to asthma, heart attacks and premature death.

By the 2018 model year, the program is expected to achieve significant savings relative to current levels, across vehicle types. Certain combination tractors – commonly known as big-rigs or semi-trucks – will be required to achieve up to approximately 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018, saving up to 4 gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, separate standards are required for gasoline-powered and diesel trucks. These vehicles will be required to achieve up to approximately 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018. Under the finalized standards a typical gasoline or diesel powered heavy-duty pickup truck or van could save one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Vocational vehicles – including delivery trucks, buses, and garbage trucks – will be required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 percent by model year 2018. These trucks could save an average of one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Beyond the direct benefits to businesses that own and operate these vehicles, the program will also benefit consumers and businesses by reducing costs for transporting goods, and spur growth in the clean energy sector by fostering innovative technologies and providing regulatory certainty for manufacturers.

More information is available on EPA's website: and on NHTSA's website:

Statements from BlueGreen Alliance Partners and Allies on Medium- and Heavy-Duty Truck Fuel Efficiency and Carbon Pollution Standards

Labor, Environmental Leaders Laud New Standards; Call for More Efforts to Create Good, 21st Century Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 9, 2011) The Obama administration today issued the first ever medium- and heavy-duty truck fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards, signaling a new era in vehicle efficiency. The announcement comes on the heels an agreement on light-duty vehicle standards, which was announced in late July.

While medium- and heavy-duty vehicles - including utility trucks, delivery vans, buses, and long-haul freight trucks - make up just four percent of vehicles on the road, they consume up to 37 billion gallons of fuel every year and account for 20 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from the transportation sector. As a result, these standards represent an incredible opportunity to lower fuel costs for truckers, cut pollution, save oil, and create jobs. The new rules are set to take effect in 2014.

Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
"The Sierra Club applauds the President's historic announcement today. By setting fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards for medium and heavy duty trucks, we will, for the first time, be able to clean up and improve the performance of the delivery trucks, city buses and freight trucks that Americans rely on each day, clearing our air, saving truckers and businesses money at the pump, creating jobs and bringing the nation a step closer to moving beyond oil."

James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters:
"These new standards will be vital to our efforts to clean up our nation's ports and ensure we all can breathe cleaner air. The standards will be an invaluable tool as we work together with other unions, environmental organizations, and private and public interests in the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports.

"But, as these standards are implemented, we must ensure that the cost of doing business and cleaning up our environment by moving to more efficient vehicles is not passed on to hardworking truckers and we instead hold the industry responsible to labor and environmental standards."

Bob King, President, United Auto Workers:
"With these new fuel efficiency standards - and the light duty standards announced recently - we truly are moving forward to a more efficient fleet of vehicles across the board. And, with this new fleet comes good jobs, a reduced dependence on foreign oil, and less pollution harming our communities and the environment. UAW is pleased to support these common sense proposals that illustrate what we can achieve when business, labor, and the public sector work together to achieve consensus."

Larry Schweiger, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation:
"These standards will provide welcome fuel savings, budget relief, and pollution reduction to those who rely on heavy trucks to move nation's goods and people, haul equipment on the job, or tow a boat to the lake. Truck manufacturers and workers, state and federal regulators, and conservationists stand together behind this new rule. It shows what Americans can accomplish when we work together."

Kevin Knobloch, President, Union of Concerned Scientists:
"These standards will put Americans back to work by saving fuel and sparking innovation. We have the technology to meet the standards and go even farther in the future to make our trucks cleaner, more fuel efficient, and less expensive to operate. That's good for workers, trucking companies, and the environment."

Peter Lehner, Executive Director, NRDC
"Under these historic standards, American companies will use less fuel to move food, freight and other products and manufacturers will build cleaner trucks. This means less air pollution for our communities to breathe and less carbon pollution that threatens our climate.

"More fuel efficient heavy trucks will help businesses and consumers by lowering transportation costs while protecting the environment."

David Foster, Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance:
"The BlueGreen Alliance strongly supports the Obama administration's efforts to build a comprehensive, national set of vehicle standards that will usher in a cleaner fleet of cars and trucks. These standards will reduce our dependence on oil, strengthen the U.S. auto and truck manufacturing sectors, create quality jobs and significantly reduce GHG pollution as America transitions to a 21st century clean energy economy.

"It's time Washington focuses on jobs. Efforts like these today by President Obama must be part of a greater plan to close America's jobs deficit. The BlueGreen Alliance has offered a jobs plan called Jobs21!, which focuses on keeping and creating jobs in 21st century industries, such as advanced vehicle manufacturing, renewable energy, energy efficiency, broadband Internet, transportation and transit infrastructure, green chemistry and other vital industries."


The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Launched in 2006, the strategic partnership now brings together 10 major U.S. labor unions and four of America's most influential environmental organizations and unites 14 million members and supporters in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy. Visit


WASHINGTON (August 9, 2011)-On the heels of a historic agreement to cut passenger vehicle fuel consumption and pollution, the Obama administration has finalized the first-ever global warming pollution and fuel-efficiency standards for new medium- and heavy-duty trucks. These standards-for trucks sold between 2014 and 2018-will cut fuel consumption across the nation's trucking fleet, provide important clean air benefits, and create almost 80,000 new jobs, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

"This is a one-two punch against America's oil dependence," said Brendan Bell, Washington representative for UCS's Clean Vehicles Program. "The Obama administration is delivering on its promise to bring cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars and trucks to the market. This is the most effective way to save drivers money at the pump, clean up our air, and reduce our reliance on oil."

Combined with new passenger vehicle standards, by 2030 the United States will save more oil than it currently imports from the Persian Gulf.

The new standards will cover a range of truck categories, from long-haul tractor trailers to buses to cement mixers. They collectively represent only 4 percent of vehicles on the road but account for 20 percent of national fuel use, according to UCS. The new standards will boost fuel efficiency and cut global warming pollution across these vehicle classes. For instance, the standards will reduce the fuel consumption of new long-haul tractor trailers nearly 20 percent by 2018. These trucks, which often travel more than 100,000 miles annually, currently achieve an average of only about 6.5 miles per gallon (mpg) and consume the most fuel of all vehicle categories covered under the new rules.

According to an economic analysis commissioned by UCS, new standards will enable truck manufactures to quickly adopt clean, fuel-efficient technology that in turn will reduce shipping costs and boost jobs and wages across several sectors. The analysis also projected that standards nearly identical to the ones finalized today could lead to a net increase of 40,000 jobs economy-wide in 2020 and nearly 80,000 jobs in 2030.

"The new standards will shift clean truck technology into gear," said Don Anair, a senior engineer with UCS's Clean Vehicles program. "They'll help put Americans back to work by shifting money away from oil companies and back toward local economies."

According to UCS, current, off-the-shelf technology can provide even greater oil savings and global warming pollution reductions for trucks, including more efficient engines, aerodynamic designs, idling alternatives and better tires. According to a UCS analysis, applying fuel-saving technology to both the tractor and the trailer could deliver savings of as much as 35 percent by 2017. The new standards, however, do not apply to truck trailers, which could account for a third of potential big-rig fuel savings.

Heavy-duty hybrid systems and other fuel-saving technology now entering the market will provide an opportunity to build on the success of this first round of standards, said Anair. UCS has called on the Obama administration to develop additional standards for trailers and a second round of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle standards to obtain additional oil and financial savings and pollution reductions.

The finalized standards come less than two weeks after the administration proposed new global warming and fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. The car and light-truck proposal, which will apply to vehicles sold in model years 2017 to 2025, will set a global warming pollution standard of 163 grams per mile by 2025, the equivalent of 54.5 mpg if met only through fuel economy improvements.


The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to

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