The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) will phase in the first ever greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for trucks and buses. The programs begins in 2014 and gradually increases fuel economy and emissions standards over several years. It is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles manufactured in the first five years of the program.
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood notes, “Through new fuel-efficiency standards for trucks and buses, we will not only reduce transportation’s environmental impact, we’ll reduce the cost of transporting freight.” He also commented that this is an example of benefiting consumers, business, and the environment simultaneously. The NHTSA and EPA note that a semi truck operator will save approximately $74,000 over the life of the vehicle as a result of higher mileage standards.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of DOT, proposes to increase mileage and emission standards for combination tractors, heavy-duty pickups and vans, and vocational vehicles. Manufacturers will use several types of technological solutions to meet the more stringent standards. Vehicles will get engine and transmission upgrades and will also have improved aerodynamics and tire rolling resistance. The total benefit to businesses and consumers in cost savings is estimated at $41 billion between 2014 and 2018.
Improvements in air quality and the impact on public health were not included in the estimates. Improved air quality as a result of stringent vehicle emissions standards reduces the health impact on Americans. Doctors, nurses, acupuncturists, and all health care professionals treat many disorders such as COPD, asthma, and cancer that are more prevalent with increased airborne carcinogens and pollutants. Reduced vehicle emissions and the associated improvements in air quality will ease the health impact of hydrocarbon related health hazards on hospitals and insurance costs. Moreover, better mileage for trucks and buses will ease financial burdens on businesses burdened by fuel costs.