Cars are key contributors to oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, which is why the Environmental Protection Agency is pushing for more stringent fuel economy standards. However, there are many other vehicles that make up the transportation sector, and now the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have rolled out their finalized emissions and efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

These classes of vehicle include semi trucks, buses, work trucks, and large pickups and vans. According to the EPA, this segment contributes 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption of the transport sector, and that percentage will likely increase over time.

The new requirements will go into effect starting in 2021 for motor vehicles, with tougher standards being implemented each year until 2027. Trailers will also now be subject to these new standards, and those requirements kick in starting in 2018. Naturally, the organizations indicate that trucks will get more expensive, but they expect that a long-haul truck driver will be able to recoup the extra cost from fuel savings in two years. Manufacturers will also have the opportunity to earn special credits by meeting standards before the deadline.

Neither organization had the fuel economy standards listed in terms of miles per gallon. Rather, their lengthy documents are clearly aimed toward engineers, and things such as cab height and size can affect requirements. And as far as fuel consumption, miles per gallon would only reveal a portion of a vehicle's efficiency, since many trucks and vans spend long amounts of time idling. These new regulations will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.1 billion metric tons and save 2 billion gallons of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.

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