Ed. Note: Cross-posted with the Fast Lane.
At the Department of Transportation we have been working to encourage safer, more innovative, and more cost effective ways to move goods across our nation’s highways. Today, President Obama introduced one more step toward that goal.
“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.”
The 2014-2018 fuel efficiency standards for trucks are designed to account for the different kind of work done by different kinds of trucks. Long haul trucks will save an average of 4 gallons for fuel for every 100 miles traveled. Heavy-duty pickups and vehicles like buses, delivery trucks, or vans would save one gallon for every 100 miles traveled. Altogether, we're looking at saving a projected 530 million barrels of oil.
That is a huge benefit to truck owners and operators. Over the life of a new truck built to fit these standards, a semi-truck driver will see a net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs. Will the technology required to meet these standards add to the cost of a new truck? Yes, but the fuel-savings will more than match that cost within one year of driving.
In fact, I'd call $50 billion in total fuel savings a significant win for a hard-working industry.
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 it will spur growth in the clean energy and manufacturing sectors by fostering innovative technologies and providing regulatory certainty.
The new standards mean huge environmental benefits. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that these new standards will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons. This will yield an incredible $49 billion in dividends to our society. The standards will also reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants, which can lead to asthma, heart attacks and premature death. That's another significant win.
I am grateful to President Obama for introducing these standards. Right now, heavy-duty truck traffic on our nation’s roads accounts for six percent of our greenhouse gas emissions. But trucking is also the fastest-growing contributor to America's emissions, and that six percent will continue rising unless we act. Trucks also consume 12 percent of US oil use, so these standards should put a dent in our dependence on foreign oil and improve our energy security.
The standards the President announced today will provide a huge financial lift to America's truckers. Even better, by improving the way we transport goods, these steps move the nation in the right direction.
For more information, read a summary of the new fuel efficiency standards and their projected impact in savings.