Revolutionary EPA Regulations to Slash Truck Emissions by 60% by 2032

"EPA Implements Tough New GHG Standards for Medium and Heavy-Duty Trucks, Aiming to Slash Emissions and Improve Air Quality"

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently set forth stringent greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks spanning model years 2027 to 2032. These trucks, despite making up less than 6% of vehicles on the road, are responsible for a significant 25% of greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation sector. The emissions from these trucks are linked to various health issues due to the release of substantial levels of air pollutants.

The finalized standards, known as “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3”, have a clear objective of reducing GHG emissions by up to 60% by the year 2032. This ambitious target is projected to prevent the release of 1 billion metric tons of carbon pollution and 55,000 tons of smog pollution. Importantly, these standards are technology-neutral, allowing manufacturers the flexibility to achieve the set targets through various methods such as electric powertrains and hydrogen fuel cells.

The recent finalization of the truck rule closely follows the EPA’s completion of tailpipe emission standards for light- and medium-duty vehicles covering the same model years. Furthermore, the agency had previously strengthened limits on nitrogen and particulate matter emissions from trucks in 2023. This move underlines the EPA’s commitment to promoting cleaner transportation.

Trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles are integral to the United States economy, facilitating the movement of goods, freight, and providing essential services across various sectors like industry and transit. However, their significant contribution to the nation’s GHG emissions cannot be overlooked. According to the EPA, the transportation sector stands as the largest contributor to climate-warming pollution in the United States, accounting for 28% of the nation’s carbon footprint in 2021. Addressing emissions from this sector is crucial for the U.S. to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, including halving GHG emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Efforts to curb transportation emissions play a pivotal role in advancing both national and global climate goals. The finalized standards are expected to bring about significant societal benefits, including improvements in public health and cost savings on fuel, estimated to reach $300 billion by 2055. Notably, the regulations are set to benefit poorer urban communities that often face the brunt of pollution from older diesel trucks concentrated around ports and industrial areas. Major industry players like Ford, Cummins, BorgWarner, and Eaton have expressed support for the cleaner standards, with leading manufacturers such as Daimler setting ambitious goals for carbon-neutral vehicles and a significant market share for zero-emission trucks by 2030.

The push towards cleaner transportation is gaining momentum, with market demand for electric heavy-duty vehicles on the rise. Major fleet operators like PepsiCo and Walmart are investing in electric medium and heavy-duty trucks, with nearly 13,000 already on the road and the number expected to grow substantially in the coming years. The decreasing costs of electric trucks, coupled with savings on fuel and maintenance, are making them increasingly economically attractive. By 2030, electric heavy-duty trucks are projected to be cheaper than their diesel counterparts, even without incentives. Drivers appreciate their quieter and cleaner operation compared to diesel trucks.

The shift towards electric heavy-duty vehicles underscores a broader trend in the industry. According to the EPA, diesel demand within the sector is expected to decrease by 120 billion gallons by 2055, accompanied by a corresponding decline of 15 billion gallons in gasoline demand. These changes highlight the pivotal role of the new standards in driving the transition towards cleaner transportation technologies and reducing GHG emissions. Truck manufacturers are making significant investments in transitioning to zero-emission vehicles, signaling a shift away from diesel.

Daimler, the largest heavy-duty vehicle manufacturer in the U.S., aims to sell entirely carbon-neutral vehicles by 2039. The company projects that zero-emission vehicle sales will make up 40% of their North American market share by 2030. Similarly, Navistar and Volvo Trucks have set ambitious goals to sell 50% zero-emission trucks by 2030, aligning with the increasing demand for electric heavy-duty vehicles. Major private tractor fleets like PepsiCo, Walmart, Sysco, and US Foods are heavily investing in electric trucks, with Republic Services planning for EVs to make up half of its new truck purchases by 2028.

While electric passenger cars and light trucks initially led the growth in electric vehicles, commercial trucks are rapidly catching up. Research from BloombergNEF forecasts another record year for commercial electric truck sales in 2024, with the global electric truck market expected to nearly quadruple from $17.8 billion in 2022 to $65 billion in 2032. The EPA’s final rule provides market certainty, enabling companies to set long-term goals and investment strategies, in line with the Biden administration’s broader climate goals and initiatives like the Clean Car program.

The regulations are aimed at reducing transportation emissions, contributing to cleaner air, protecting public health, and advancing sustainability for future generations. However, some in the heavy-duty industry have expressed concerns over the projected additional costs. Trade groups like The American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers have criticized the new rule as an “unlawful EV mandate for heavy trucks”. On the other hand, President Biden’s National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi has hailed the finalized GHG standards as a significant policy initiative, emphasizing the potential for extraordinary public health, climate, and economic benefits from tackling pollution from heavy-duty vehicles.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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