Trucks getting 6 miles per gallon are a drain on the economy, and we can do better


David Guo's Master/flickr

“We’ve partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.” 2014 State of the Union Address

The President’s commitment to new standards for trucks is welcome news, as inaction isn’t a viable option.

  • Climate pollution from America’s heavy trucks is projected to increase by more than 130 million tons between now and 2040. That’s expected to be the largest increase in emissions from any single end-use source.
  • The average new heavy-duty diesel truck sold last year got slightly less than six miles per gallon.
  • Most of these trucks travel upwards of 120,000 miles and burn more than $80,000 worth of fuel per year.

This inefficiency has real costs for our economy. We import millions of barrels of oil to fuel heavy-duty trucks. Businesses, both small and large, spend billions on the fuel needed to move freight. You and I pay for this too, when we buy those products.

Now here’s the good news:

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have the tools today that we need to change this. We have the technology to decrease freight truck emissions. We can cut 20 percent off our current trajectories by 2030, and go much further by 2040. In fact, a recent analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found that it’s realistic to expect new trucks to achieve something approaching a 40 percent fuel consumption reduction, compared to 2010 trucks, within the next decade.

Well-designed federal standards can foster the innovation necessary to bring more efficient and lower emitting trucks to market. Manufacturers need to be confident in market demand in order to develop and launch efficiency improvements. Scaled production can drive down costs, further enhancing the payback truck fleets will experience through lower fuel bills. EDF has set out a blueprint for rigorous greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards. Through smart, well designed policies and American innovation, we can cut climate pollution and save fuel costs while strengthening our security and winning the race to deploy clean energy technologies in the global marketplace.

With the right political and commercial will, we can build on the partnership created during the development of the current standards to find common ground on the next phase of truck efficiency rules. We can do this in a way that enables American businesses to thrive, cuts the need for imported oil by hundreds of millions of barrels a year, and slashes climate pollution by more than 100 million tons a year.

That’s why it was great to hear President Obama’s call to action in the State of the Union Address about the next phase of truck standards. We already knew that we could do it – now it looks like we willMany companies already have developed — and are bringing to market — the tools we need to meet a strong standard.

This post is adapted from an entry on our Climate 411 blog. Visit the original post for examples of companies taking the initiative, as well as details on currently available technologies that can mitigate the problem.

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Jason Mathers

Jason Mathers

Jason is EDF's Supply Chain Director at our Corporate Partnerships program.

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Its terrible, after reading the notice i can say in my country its happening the same thing, lots of oil and money bad wasted on the road. We hope we can change our minds soon if not we will suffer the consecuences and our child too.

Not any job, only Green Jobs can start to move the economies of the world out of the morass. As long as capitalism has the ability to profit, handily I would add, from polluting the commons, every “Black” job just digs the hole deeper. Only green jobs ADD VALUE to the economy and start to rejuvenate Earth’s life support systems as well as the economy via Distributed green energy from the renewable sector. (A cash cow in every pocket.)
Corporations are “People” now for better or worse. Speaking as a “Real People”, if I throw a paper cup out the car window, bingo, ~$100 fine. ($1,000 in Alaska.) (You try it in front of a camera and see what happens.) Corpro/People can pollute the air, water, dirt, and oceans with Toxins and the dirtiest Corpro/People have become richest Corpro/People in the world and the foundation of Western Capitalism. Still Corpro/People get rich and even subsidized with YOURS & MY TAX MONEY. I cannot stop it but "We the People" can and will find a way with or without you! GOP don’t fund abortion. Fine. A precedent. How come I must fund the Ecocide of Earth’s life support systems? Go figure. Please help! Stop profits from the pollution of the commons…. PLEASE…

"War becomes perpetual when used as a rational for peace," Norman Solomon. "Peace becomes perpetual when used as a rational for survival." Yours truly. Socially enabled capitalism is a failed paradigm. War is a prime example. Stop profits from the exploitation and pollution of the commons. Give PEACE a chance. Give Green a chance. Hell, give HUMANITY A CHANCE!

We won't save the earth by replacing a bunch of trucks. We need to buy locally to cut down on the pollution created by our global economy.