U.S. regulators unveil final rule on truck emissions limits

August 16, 2016 12:18 PM EDT

A truck engine is tested for pollution exiting its exhaust pipe as California Air Resources field representatives (unseen) work a checkpoint set up to inspect heavy-duty trucks traveling near the Mexican-U.S. border in Otay Mesa, California September 10,


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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Tuesday announced new standards aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks by up to 25 percent by 2027.

The final rules issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tracked proposals issued last year, although there were new provisions that won support from truck and engine makers, as well as environmental groups.

Medium- and heavy-duty vehicle and engine manufacturers were given until 2027 to fully achieve the new emissions targets. California regulators had argued for the standards taking effect in 2024.

California also agreed its regulators will not issue separate requirements, while the state and environmentalists got about a 10 percent greater reduction in carbon emissions and fuel use under the final proposal than originally proposed.

Truck and engine makers have developed new technology that promise to make more ambitious standards achievable, officials said.

The deal on greenhouse gas limits for heavy commercial vehicles was struck after more than 400 meetings involving regulators, companies and environmental groups. It ultimately won the backing of California's Air Resources Board, truck and engine manufacturers and environmental groups.

The rules have provisions designed to deter truck and engine manufacturers from cheating on emissions controls in the wake of Volkswagen's diesel emissions cheating scandal.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said on Tuesday the agency has received a petition from officials in nine states to set future rules to limit nitrogen oxide emissions from heavy trucks, but has not made a decision on whether to act.

U.S. truckers hauled 10.5 billion tons of freight last year at a cost of $726 billion. The government says the new rules will save $170 billion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles. But it will add $27 billion in upfront costs.

Fuel is one of the largest costs for trucking companies, and fleet operators have already been investing in fuel-saving technology and training drivers to operate more efficiently.

UPS, Daimler Trucks North America, Cummins, Waste Management and PepsiCo were among many companies endorsing the rules on Tuesday.

The rules also requires annual increases in efficiency of 2.5 percent from 2021-2027 for heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans. Those vehicles are larger and heavier than light-duty vehicles and used to haul larger loads.

The American Trucking Association said it was "cautiously optimistic" the new rules will not disrupt fleets and manufacturers.

The United Auto Workers union raised concerns in February about the impact of a tougher rule on employment, saying the rules "push the stringencies too far (and) could have serious impacts" on manufacturers.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said the deal will "save consumers money, cut oil consumption, and decrease dangerous carbon pollution." But he said stronger standards could reduce fuel use by as much as 40 percent.

The rules are likely the last major climate regulation of the Obama administration.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Dan Grebler)



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