On Friday, the Obama administration officially announced plans to further lower carbon emissions in the United States. This new rule, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Transportation Department, aims to increase the fuel efficiency of the large trucks crossing the country everyday. New regulations will also affect other trucks, such as delivery vehicles, dump trucks and buses.
Two categories of standards were created, one for the front part of big trucks, called tractors, and one for trailers that trucks haul. The tractor standard will be implemented for those built in 2021 and require efficiency increases of up to 24 percent. This will be the first time, however, that regulations extend to trailers. The first federal standards for big trucks were announced in 2011 for any truck models built between 2014 and 2018.
The rules threaten to impose undue burdens on the trucking industry — an industry responsible for the transportation of food, raw goods, and most freight in the country. Adjusting to these new rules will require improvements in aerodynamics and the use of lighter materials as well as tweaks in current engine and transmission technology. The EPA stated the industry would be able to recoup their costs within two years for trucks with trailers. For smaller trucks and buses, the recoup time may be as long as three to six years.
These new regulations are just the next step in a long line of new rules implemented under the Obama administration. In his first term, President Obama discussed limitations on automobile emissions. These were followed by new rules set by the EPA for power plants and more recently potential regulations on airplane engine emissions.