At a White House Rose Garden ceremony this morning, President Obama signed a policy calling on two federal agencies to develop national standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for medium and heavy trucks.
"This will bring down costs for transporting goods, serving businesses and consumers alike," Obama said. "We estimate that we can increase fuel economy by as much as 25 percent in tractor-trailers using technologies that already exist."
On the stage with the president were chief executives from major manufacturers, as well as the trucking industry, signaling broad industry support for the new policy. On hand were Martin Daum, President and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, Dennis Slagle, President and CEO of Volvo North American Trucks, Tim Solso, CEO of Cummins, Daniel Ustian, President and CEO of Navistar, G. Tommy Hodges, Chairman of American Trucking Associations, and Anthony Dunkley, a driver for Waste Management.
The announcement came a year to the day after the Obama administration announced an agreement to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions for cars and light trucks. Obama noted that this standard runs through 2016, and proposed a new higher standard starting in 2017.
Under today's agreement, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will work together to produce rules covering emissions and fuel standards, respectively.
NHTSA's authority comes from Congress, which in 2007 charged the agency with tackling fuel economy performance standards for medium and heavy trucks. EPA's authority came from a 2007 Supreme Court finding that greenhouse gases are pollutants. EPA subsequently determined that the gases endanger health, a finding that launched the rulemaking process last year.
NHTSA has been working on a fuel economy standard and is scheduled to publish a study on the subject in September. EPA is likely to issue a proposal in late summer or early fall, said Glen Kedzie, vice president and environmental counsel for ATA.