President Obama has signed a memorandum ordering federal agencies to prepare plans for the first fuel efficiency standards ever established for big-rig trucks.
Specifically, the memorandum orders the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to establish greenhouse gas emissions standards for commercial medium- and heavy-duty vehicles beginning with model year 2014. The goal is to issue a final rule by July 30, 2011.
In the memorandum, Obama says he wants the EPA and NHTSA to consider whether particular segments of the diverse heavy-duty vehicle sector present special opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase fuel economy using existing technologies. To make the case, he points out that the government's preliminary estimates indicate that large tractor trailers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 20 percent and increase their fuel efficiency by as much as 25 percent with the use of existing technologies. Without a doubt, those types of improvements would prove very significant because large tractor trailers represent half of all greenhouse gas emissions from this sector.
Last month, Obama announced new standards for cars and light trucks for the 2012-2016 model years. These new standards would require a fleet average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, nearly 10 miles per gallon more than now.
This new memorandum falls short of specific new mileage goals for big-rigs, but calls for the agencies to take "additional coordinated steps to produce a new generation of clean vehicles."
According to The Detroit News, automakers welcome a national standard, rather than what Obama called "a tangle of overlapping and uncertain rules." With clear direction, manufacturers say they now have incentive to develop more efficient vehicles a move that will, in turn, curb our dependence on oil and create new jobs.
In addition, trucks with improved MPG and reduced GHG are fundamental components of an efficient, "green" supply chain (think Scope 3 emissions) and it's becoming increasingly clear that tomorrow's successful companies are working today towards mitigating risks associated with changes in both global climate and resource availability.