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Feds release new regulations to curb big truck emissions and fuel use

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Could cut 1.1 billion tons of carbon and save $170 billion in fuel

Recent Highway Accident Involving Actor Tracy Morgan Puts Federal Regulations Of Trucking Industry In Spotlight Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have adopted new regulations to reduce the carbon emissions and improve fuel efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The new regulations will, according to the White House, cut 1.1 billion tons of carbon pollution, save vehicle owners $170 billion in fuel costs, and reduce oil consumption by as much as 84 billion gallons.

The ambitious regulations are expected to deliver a lot of savings, but it’s worth remembering that these are just predictions and should, accordingly, be taken with a grain of salt.

Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans will need to be 2.5 percent more efficient annually between 2021 and 2027. Standards for certain big rig trailers will be established that should cut carbon emissions and fuel consumption by as much as 9 percent thanks to things like fuel efficient aerodynamic bits.

Diesel engine standards for big-rig tractor engines are now finalized, reducing carbon emissions and fuel consumption by up to 5 percent, and 4 percent for vocational engines versus the first round of standards. Finally, the standards for carbon emissions and fuel consumption for all those large vehicles are more aggressive. They cut emissions by as much as 25 percent from the previously proposed standards for vehicles with model years from 2014 to 2018.

To get there, corporations and vehicle owners will need to invest in new technologies to improve efficiency. The government is investing too, with more than $100 million in grants going toward the development of the next generation of fuel-efficient truck technologies.

Truck operators, according to Obama administration officials, will see financial benefits beyond the environmental impact. "This is going to be a net savings to operators of these heavy duty and medium-size trucks," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, according to The Washington Post. "They are going to be able to get places using less fuel, which has a bottom-line impact on the cost of goods."

The rules were proposed more than a year ago and are part of a larger push by the Obama administration to raise fuel economy standards and lower emissions of all vehicles. Previous standards raised the fuel economy goal for passenger cars to 54.5 mpg by 2025.