EPA Proposes Dramatically More Stringent Heavy Vehicle Emission Standards

These cuts, if enacted, would have an outsize effect on total greenhouse gas emissions produced in the US.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read
Daimler Freightliner Cascadia
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Daimler Freightliner Cascadia

If the EPA's proposed cuts are enacted, it could mean a big improvement in air quality for a lot of people.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Usually, when we talk about the federal government tightening up emissions standards for vehicles, we're talking about passenger vehicles. Still, there are many other classes of on-road vehicles, specifically heavy-duty trucks , buses and the like, that are also subject to emissions controls. It's these vehicles that may be about to get a swift kick in the shorts from an emissions regulations standpoint, according to a report Monday by Automotive News.

What do I mean by that? Well, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering mandating a 47% to 60% reduction in the maximum oxides of nitrogen emissions standards (PDF). This is huge, especially since those oxides are the primary greenhouse gas emission of diesel engines.

Why is all this important? Because medium- and heavy-duty vehicles make up just 5% of the total number of vehicles on American roads, but according to the EPA, they produce 24% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. Cleaning up this slice of the transportation pie will make a huge difference overall when it comes to combating human-caused climate change, and it will require making changes to far fewer vehicles.

But these cuts aren't coming immediately, so there's time to prepare. The EPA proposes that the cuts start in 2027 and max out in 2045. That seems like a long time, and it is, but developing and implementing the kind of emissions control equipment necessary to meet the EPA's goals won't happen overnight either. The same is true for those sectors of industry that can convert to battery-electric vehicles -- like city buses and short-haul trucks -- because that will take huge sums of money for the vehicles, infrastructure and training for maintenance personnel.

We asked the EPA for comment, but didn't hear back prior to publication.

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