Policy update

EPA/NHTSA Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles

On October 25, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the world’s first-ever program to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) and improve fuel efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. While Japan deserves full credit for establishing the world’s first fuel economy program for medium and heavy-duty vehicles in 2005 that will go into effect in 2015, the U.S. rule proposal adds several important elements:

  1. Drives efficiency improvements in all aspects of the heavy-duty vehicle for the two highest fuel consumption classes: tractor trailers and pickups/vans
  2. Sets separate standards for engines and vehicles
  3. Establishes standards for four major greenhouse gases

The agencies are expecting to finalize the rule by July 30, 2011 after a notice and sixty-day comment period that ends on January 31, 2011.

In 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) instructed the EPA and NHTSA to work collaboratively to deliver regulations under their respective authorities: the EPA is proposing GHG emission standards under the Clean Air Act, and NHTSA is proposing fuel efficiency standards under the EISA. The emissions included in the EPA’s program will be carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Overall, the stringency of the program ranges from 7% to 20% reduction in fuel consumption in the model year (MY) 2018 time frame. The stringency levels vary based on vehicle subcategories that are based on weight classes and vehicle attributes. The rule proposal is best understood as three separate regulatory designs as well as specific provisions for heavy- duty engines that power tractor trucks and vocational vehicles.

(See the full update [PDF] for further details.)

Next Steps

In the proposal, the agencies request comments on a wide range of topics from stringency levels to test procedure to flexibility provisions. It is expected that feedback received during the public workshops and throughout the comment period will results in changes reflected in the final rule to be published in July 30, 2011. Comments on all aspects of the proposal must be submitted by January 31, 2011. Instructions for submitting comments can be found on page 1 of the proposed rule, which has been published in the Federal Register here [PDF].