U.S. Sets Stringent GHG Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Black freight truck on road in daylight with mountains behind, desert landscape

by | Apr 1, 2024

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the most stringent national greenhouse gas pollution standards for heavy-duty vehicles, including freight trucks and buses, for model years 2027 through 2032. This landmark regulation aims to curb 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, providing an estimated $13 billion in annual net benefits encompassing public health improvements, climate mitigation, and substantial savings for truck owners and operators. Specifically targeting the 72 million Americans living near truck freight routes, predominantly from lower-income communities, the new standards promise significant reductions in dangerous air pollutants.

The standards are poised to drive considerable private investment, bolster U.S. manufacturing jobs in advanced vehicle technologies, and catalyze economic growth. Reflecting the U.S.’s commitment to cutting-edge, sustainable transportation solutions, these regulations align with President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, ensuring the heavy-duty sector’s trajectory towards expansion and innovation over the coming decade.

Flexibility and Future-Ready Technologies

EPA’s rigorous modeling indicates that the final standards will surpass the anticipated pollution reductions of the proposed rule, offering manufacturers additional time and flexibility to advance clean vehicle technologies. This approach supports deploying various technologies, including advanced internal combustion engines, plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These standards’ flexible, technology-neutral nature empowers manufacturers to select the optimal emissions control technologies for their products and customers.

A Collective Commitment to Public Health and Climate Action

The Biden-Harris Administration has demonstrated an ambitious climate and environmental justice agenda, aiming to mitigate the impacts of climate change while ensuring equitable health outcomes across all communities. Critical to the nation’s economy, heavy-duty vehicles account for a quarter of all transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions, the largest source of such emissions in the U.S. The new standards complete the EPA’s Clean Trucks Plan, representing the agency’s most comprehensive regulations for on-road emissions, significantly benefiting public health and responding to the urgent need for climate action.

Economic Benefits, Engaging Consumers and Stakeholders

Recognizing the diversity of the heavy-duty vehicle market, the new standards encourage innovation in clean vehicle technology, broadening the spectrum of options for consumers. This initiative is expected to unlock $3.5 billion in annualized savings for the industry, with the Inflation Reduction Act’s vehicle purchase tax credits further enhancing the economic viability of clean technology vehicles. By 2032, when the standards are fully implemented, truck purchasers could see annual savings ranging from $3,700 to $10,500 on fuel and maintenance costs, depending on the vehicle type.

EPA commits to continuous engagement with stakeholders, including trucking fleets, vehicle manufacturers, utility providers, and communities, especially those with environmental justice concerns. This collaborative approach aims to ensure the availability of vehicle technologies and the necessary infrastructure to support the successful implementation of the Phase 3 standards.

National Strategy for Zero-Emission Freight

Complementing these efforts, the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Transportation recently unveiled the National Zero Emission Freight Corridor Strategy. This comprehensive plan aims to establish a world-class, zero-emission freight network by 2040, focusing on high-traffic routes and freight hubs to maximize public and private investments in clean transportation.

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