A federal program released Tuesday that is intended to cut emissions and increase efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty trucks falls short when it comes to making the most of the country’s natural gas resources, natural gas vehicle (NGV) proponent NGVAmerica said.
“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. “The rules are designed to address the urgent and closely intertwined challenges of dependence on oil, energy security, urban emissions and global climate change. Natural gas vehicles help achieve all these goals and more.”
Kolodziej said his group was at the table arguing for “a much more significant fuel economy incentive for natural gas trucks, but those arguments were ignored.” NGVAmerica also sought but didn’t get greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions credits for natural gas-fueled trucks.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said the new standards for heavy-duty vehicles will save American businesses that use such vehicles about $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program.
“Thanks to the Obama administration, for the first time in our history we have a common goal for increasing the fuel efficiency of the trucks that deliver our products, the vehicles we use at work, and the buses our children ride to school,” said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. “These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector, and promote energy independence for America.”
Going forward, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million bbl and GHG pollution by about 270 million metric tons, EPA said. Like the administration’s standards for automobiles, the program, which EPA said 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.
While the program addresses traditional motor fuels — gasoline and diesel — it doesn’t take advantage of natural gas, NGVAmerica said.
“Every natural gas truck that rolls off an assembly line and is put into service begins backing out 100% of the petroleum that would otherwise be used. And yet the rules finalized [Tuesday] only provide about a 20% fuel economy credit for such vehicles,” the group said.
Kolodziej said the group fought for more but didn’t get it. “It is unfortunate and disappointing that the administration is not being more supportive of natural gas-powered trucks,” he said. “The U.S. currently has the largest selection of medium- and heavy-duty natural gas powered truck offerings anywhere in the world. But demand growth for such vehicles in these economic turbulent times has been slow. Adopting the right type of regulatory incentives is a low-cost way to stimulate market demand for such vehicles, but the agencies missed this opportunity.”
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