Federal Government Imposes New Efficiency Regulations on Heavy Duty Trucks

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By H. Sterling Burnett

The Obama administration has imposed expensive new regulations on heavy duty trucks to fight climate change.

On August 16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized new fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles as called for by President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. The standards are expected to lower carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program, an amount the Obama administration has admitted is amount too small to have a measurable effect on temperature or climate change.

The new standards will affect engine performance standards for truck model years 2018-2027, including for semi-trucks, large pickup trucks, vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks. The costs will vary based on the size of the vehicle but it could add as much as $15,100 to the price of a large truck within the next decade.

Can’t Meet Standards, Pay a Fine

Congress recognized trucking companies may be unable to meet EPA's increasingly stringent standards, and enacted changes to protect so- called 'laggards," allowing truck manufacturers unable to meet the new standards to pay fines rather than have their vehicles disallowed forcing the companies out of business. Daniel Simmons, vice president for policy at the Institute Energy Research, told the Daily Caller, EPA’s decision is not surprising.

“The Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle on the market to date,” Simmons said. “Ford has spent more than $1 billion to get the truck into compliance, yet it is still not in full compliance. So it’s ridiculous to believe that car companies not named Ford will be able to meet new, more stringent standards.”

While EPA, when announcing the new standards, said new long-haul truck purchasers in 2027 would recoup the investment in fuel-efficient technology in less than two years through fuel savings,” economist Nicolas Loris, the Herbert and Joyce Morgan fellow at The Heritage Foundation, says that is extremely unlikely, since if such significant savings were to be had the federal government would not have to force the technological change on industry, it would have built the more efficient engines on its own to increase profits.

In a CNS news article Loris writes, “It is so considerate that the federal government would devote taxpayer-funded resources to create and enforce a regulation that will help trucking business’ bottom line. It’s a bunch of hogwash.

“Here’s an industry that has nearly 3 million heavy-duty trucks that carry approximately 70 percent of America’s freight,” said Loris. “And the industry operates on paper-thin margins and plans driving routes down to the tenth of a mile to save on fuel costs.

“But forget all of that,” Loris writes in CNS News. “The government thinks it knows better and has better business and investment acumen than those actually in the trucking industry.”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., (hsburnett@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. This article was reprinted with permission from heartland.org, a product of The Heartland Institute (https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/obama-administration-imposes-new-efficiency-regulations-on-heavy-duty-trucks).

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