Written by Tim Hull

EPA Fuel StandardsThe EPA proposed new fuel standards aimed at reducing emissions and fuel consumption of semis, heavy-duty pickup trucks, tractors, and vocational vehicles by 10 to 20 percent by 2018.

If approved, the standards could reduce greenhouse emissions by about 250 million metric tons, and save 500 million barrels of oil and about $41 billion in net benefits over the lives vehicles produced within the program’s first five years, according to the EPA and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“It is estimated an operator of a semi truck could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year, and save as much as $74,000 over the truck’s useful life,” the agencies claim. “Vehicles with lower annual miles would typically experience longer payback periods, up to four or five years, but would still reap cost-savings.”

The proposed standards would begin in the 2014 model year. For tractors, the agencies hope to achieve up to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and fuel consumption by the 2018 model year. For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, the goal is a 10 percent reduction for gasoline vehicles and 15 percent reduction for diesel vehicles by 2018 (12 and 17 percent respectively if accounting for air conditioning leakage). For vocational vehicles, the agencies want to achieve up to a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 2018.

“These new standards are another step in our work to develop a new generation of clean, fuel-efficient American vehicles that will improve our environment and strengthen our economy,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement. “In addition to cutting greenhouse gas pollution, greater fuel economy will shrink fuel costs for small businesses that depend on pickups and heavy duty vehicles, shipping companies and cities and towns with fleets of these vehicles.”

EPA and NHTSA are providing a 60-day comment period that begins when the proposal is published in the Federal Register. The proposal and information about how to submit comments is at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm and http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy.