Trucking interests are still poring through a nearly 1,000-page rule that sets first-of-their-kind fuel efficiency standards for trucks, buses, and other heavy-duty vehicles, but initial reaction has been largely positive.

President Obama unveiled the new rules yesterday, saying they will save American businesses who operate and own these commercial vehicles approximately $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program.

Under the new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons. This program, which relies heavily on off-the-shelf technologies, was developed in coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the state of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders.

The rules

Vehicles are divided into three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (like transit buses and refuse trucks). Within each of those categories, even more specific targets are laid out based on the design and purpose of the vehicle. This flexible structure allows fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type.

* Combination tractors will be required to achieve up to approximately 20% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018.

* For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, separate standards are required for gasoline-powered and diesel trucks. These vehicles will be required to achieve up to approximately 15% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018.

* Vocational vehicles - including delivery trucks, buses, and garbage trucks - will be required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10% by model year 2018.

Industry reaction

Industry groups were quick to release statements in response to the new rules, most of them positive:

"Everyone was sort of patting everyone else on the back." ATA President Bill Graves to the Washington Post.

"While we haven't had a chance yet to thoroughly review the final rule, we were pleased overall with the process, and the degree to which EPA and NHTSA involved and listened to the industry." Denny Slagle, president and CEO North American Trucks (Volvo and Mack).

"Truck manufacturers and workers, state and federal regulators, and conservationists stand together behind this new rule. It shows what Americans can accomplish when we work together." Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

"This regulation and the process used to establish it are a model for how government and business should work together to meet energy, environment and economic goals." Tim Solso, chairman and CEO of Cummins.

"With this rule, EPA and NHTSA have now set an example for what could be a worldwide GHG and fuel efficiency regulation for heavy duty trucks and engines." Daniel C. Ustian, Navistar chairman, president and CEO.

"We support the new federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency as they affect the commercial vehicles industry. We have worked closely and productively with the EPA and NHTSA and look forward to continued collaboration on implementation of the new standards." Sean Waters, Director Compliance and Regulatory Affairs, Daimler Trucks North America

"This is an important milestone for our industry and our country. We are pleased to be part of a realistic solution that will ultimately help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve natural resources by helping to increase the fuel efficiency of our industry." Douglas W. Stotlar, president and CEO of Con-way Inc.

"Commercial vehicles account for approximately 20 percent of transportation's fuel use, so fuel efficiency standards are essential to spur affordable and widely available cleaner delivery vehicles." Frederick W. Smith, president, CEO and chairman of FedEx Corp.

"These new truck standards will reduce our dangerous dependence on oil and clean up our air, while creating much-needed jobs and saving drivers money at the pump," League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski.

"EMA and TMA members strongly support a uniform, national program to address greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency that aligns with the needs of their customers and the nation. We applaud EPA and NHTSA for their willingness to listen to manufacturers' concerns related to the unique and complex aspects of the commercial engine and vehicle market and their efforts to finalize a manageable and implementable program." Jed Mandel, president of the Engine Manufacturers Association and Truck Manufacturers Association.

"The new standards provide important incentives that will serve as a catalyst for deploying new fuel-efficient technologies such as hybrids and advanced drivetrains." Alexander M. Cutler, Eaton chairman and chief executive officer.

Not everyone's happy

The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, however, called the administration's announcement "a flawed, one-size-fits-all rule," saying it ignores input from small-business trucking, overlooks less expensive options to achieve EPA goals of reduced emissions, and will ultimately increase new truck costs.

"They also totally overlooked the most effective fuel-savings method of all," said Joe Rajkovacz, director of regulatory affairs for OOIDA. "Driver training, which is responsible for 35 percent of fuel economy and which costs far less than any new technology, should have been the priority."

Another negative reaction came from NGVAmerica, which champions natural gas vehicles. "The rules include some regulatory incentives and flexibility for natural gas trucks but should have gone much further in recognizing the benefits of NGVs," said NGVAmerica President Richard Kolodziej. "It is unfortunate and disappointing that the Administration is not being more supportive of natural gas powered trucks."

More information is available on EPA's website, and on NHTSA's website,