Monday, May 24, 2010

President Obama Moves On Fuel Standards For Freight Trucks

New Memo Follows Last Years Order for Smaller Vehicles
Shipping News Feature

US – Much lobbying from freight trucking interests culminated in a White House meeting on Friday when President Obama signed a presidential memorandum before industry leaders including carriers, engine manufacturers and truck builders, directing the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop national standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for heavy- and medium-duty trucks. The American Trucking Associations (ATA), who recommended the benchmarks be adopted in their Sustainability Task Force (STF) recommendation two years ago, was well represented at the ceremony.

ATA Chairman Tommy Hodges, who chaired the STF for three years, said:

“I would like to thank the members of the Task Force, and the ATA Board of Directors, who created the Task Force in 2007. They had great foresight, and they have positioned ATA well to be at the front of the fuel economy issue. They have put ATA on the road to affecting a solution that is beneficial for the environment, the public, and for all of trucking.

“President Obama told us this morning that this could be a model of industry and government cooperation in developing beneficial regulations,” Hodges said. “We set out in 2007 to have the trucking industry become leaders on this issue when the EPA would begin to regulate truck fuel economy. Today we reached one of our goals. ATA’s members and staff have given the industry an opportunity to have significant input on this issue.”

After a meeting with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson he continued:

“She acknowledged that the trucking industry has made huge advances in reducing the emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides from trucks. Unfortunately, some advances have come at the cost of a reduction in fuel economy and a slight increase in carbon dioxide output. Now we have the opportunity to fix that and substantially increase our fuel economy.”

The intention of the ATA is to correct what they see as unproductive truck and combination weight categories, standardise the national speed limit at 65 mph, with governors to ensure compliance on trucks, update the interstate highway system and various other measures to make vehicles more productive.

President Obama himself said that products and technologies available today could improve fuel economy by 25 percent and that the new regulations should be completed in 2011 and go into effect starting with model year 2014 equipment. The move is considered an important first step toward a big reduction in emission levels coupled with a countrywide reduction in fuel consumption for trucks shipping freight across the country. This memorandum follows last year’s instructions for a similar programme for smaller vehicles.

“Instead of fighting higher standards, auto manufacturers are engaged in a race to meet them. And over the next five years, we expect fuel efficiency standards in cars and light trucks to reach an average of 35.5 miles per gallon,” he said.

“Today’s announcement is an essential part of our energy strategy, but it’s not a substitute for other necessary steps to ensure our leadership in a new clean energy economy,” he added, reiterating his support for Senators’ Lieberman and Kerry’s energy and climate change bill.