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