US Clean Truck Plan: A Pollution Law for Large Trucks

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US Clean Truck Plan: A Pollution Law for Large Trucks

The US EPA has finalized a new rule they call the US Clean Truck Plan that sets pollution standards for heavy-duty trucks for the first time in two decades. This is a major milestone in the effort to clean up the air and fight the growing global climate crisis. The new rules will require truck manufacturers to reduce the emissions from diesel engines used in big rigs and other large vehicles.

The US Clean Truck Plan will set new pollution standards for heavy-duty trucks. Image of a big rig towing two trailers.
The US Clean Truck Plan will set new pollution standards for heavy-duty trucks. Image: Pexels

What is the new pollution rule?

The Clean Truck Plan, announced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on December 20, will require heavy-duty trucks to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants starting in 2027. The rule is the first of its kind in the United States, and it comes as a result of years of advocacy from environmental groups and others who have been urging the government to take action on climate change.

The new rule will apply to trucks that weigh more than 26,000 pounds, including tractor-trailers, garbage trucks, and buses. It is estimated that about 500,000 heavy-duty trucks are on the road in the United States today.

According to the EPA, transportation is responsible for about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the country. And while passenger cars and light trucks have become more fuel-efficient in recent years, heavy-duty trucks have been mostly exempt from emissions standards.

The new rule is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.1 million metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles affected. That’s equivalent to taking about 250,000 cars off the road each year.

How will this affect heavy-duty truckers?

The new law, which was finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday, will require manufacturers of heavy-duty trucks to significantly reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a pollutant that contributes to smog and is linked to respiratory problems.

The EPA estimates that the rule will result in a 95% reduction in NOx emissions from new heavy-duty trucks by the model year 2027, compared to 2010 levels. This is a significant victory for public health, as NOx pollution has been linked to asthma, lung cancer, and other serious health problems.

However, the new rule will significantly impact the trucking industry. In order to meet the new emissions standards, truck manufacturers will need to make significant changes to their designs and engines. This could lead to higher trucker costs, as they may need to purchase new vehicles or retrofit their existing ones.

Funding to the trucking industry to help offset the cost of the changes to the truckers will be provided through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Laws enacted by the Biden administration in 2022.

What other steps can be taken to reduce pollution from these trucks?

In addition to the new pollution rule, a few other things can be done to help heavy trucks reduce pollution. One is to make sure that they are properly maintained. This means regularly checking and replacing filters and ensuring that the engine is tuned up properly. Where possible, owners of these trucks should try to use cleaner-burning fuels, such as natural gas or propane. In addition, simply ensuring that these trucks are not idling unnecessarily is essential, as this can significantly add to their emissions.

How will this new rule affect the trucking industry overall?

Trucking is responsible for nearly one-fifth of all transportation-related NOx emissions in the United States. These emissions have been linked to various health problems, including respiratory illness, heart disease, and strokes. The new rule is expected to reduce NOx emissions from heavy-duty trucks by up to 95 percent, resulting in significant public health benefits.

The trucking industry has already begun to make significant progress in reducing emissions, thanks in part to stricter fuel efficiency standards that were put in place in 2011. However, the new rule is expected to accelerate these efforts and result in even greater emission reductions.

The EPA estimates that the new rule will cost the trucking industry $170 million per year, but it also estimates that the benefits to society will outweigh the costs by more than 30 times. These benefits include improved public health, reduced fuel costs, and increased efficiency for the trucking industry as a whole, making the US more competitive on the world stage.

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