New EPA, DOT truck fuel economy rules undervalue nat gas

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) are drawing criticism for not doing more to reduce foreign oil imports with the newly proposed regulations covering emissions and fuel economy for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

NGVAmerica is one of the groups saying it believes that the rules could have been even more effective in reducing emissions and reducing the use of imported petroleum. In particular, the federal government should have done more to promote and encourage the use of fuels such as natural gas.

“The rules include some regulatory incentives and flexibility for natural gas trucks but should have gone much further in recognizing the benefits of NGVs,” says Richard Kolodziej, NGVAmerica president. “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.”

Accelerating the use of domestically produced natural gas can have the biggest impact on reducing the use of petroleum motor fuel today. Moreover, natural gas is abundant, economical, and secure. 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 today only provide about a 20% fuel economy credit for such vehicles.

“That makes little sense,” Kolodziej says. “NGVAmerica and its members made a strong and effective case for a much more significant fuel economy incentive for natural gas trucks, but those arguments were ignored. We also urged the (Obama) Administration to provide enhanced greenhouse gas emission credits for natural gas trucks, but no such credits were provided either.

“It is unfortunate and disappointing that the Administration is not being more supportive of natural gas powered trucks. The US 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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