By the end of next year, new national emission standards will be finalized in an effort to reduce the amount of harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks.
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that starting in model year 2027, commercial motor vehicles will be subject to a series of significant rule-makings over the course of the next few years aiming to implement standards bringing a major reduction to the amount of nitrogen oxide pollution emitted from these trucks.
“This action will include an update of current greenhouse gas standards to capture market shifts to zero-emission technologies in certain segments of the heavy-duty vehicle sector,” said the EPA in a recent statement.
The current standard for nitrogen oxide pollution for on-highway, heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles is 0.20 grams per brake-horsepower-hour, and this particular standard for trucks and engines has not seen any changes for the last 20 years. In terms of its next standard, the specific target reduction in nitrogen oxide has not been made clear by EPA.
The agency’s new “Clean Trucks Plan” will aim to lower overall new heavy-duty vehicle emissions, including those emitted from commercial delivery trucks, buses, and long-haul tractors. This new rule will implement “more robust greenhouse gas emission standards” for all newly-manufactured heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles at least by the model year 2030, EPA has claimed.
“These new rules will be major steps toward improving air quality and addressing the climate crisis,” said the agency. Additionally, these regulations will help areas most in need of improved wellbeing, including many “overburdened and underserved communities,” as heavy-duty truck emission pollution is a major factor in poor health and air quality across the United States, EPA noted.
“Heavy-duty vehicles are the largest contributor–about 32%–to mobile source emissions of nitrogen oxide, which react in the atmosphere to form ozone and particulate matter,” explained the agency in its statement. “These pollutants are linked to respiratory and/or cardiovascular problems and other adverse health impacts that lead to increased medication use, hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and premature deaths.”
EPA has been under pressure by a variety of both local and state agencies throughout the nation urging the agency to find ways to largely reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from big-rigs, as many officials from these agencies are seeing poor health in their own areas due to low air quality and pollution.
“Such reductions are a critical part of many areas’ strategies to attain and maintain the health-based air quality standards, and to ensure that all communities benefit from improvements in air quality,” said EPA.
This month, President Joe Biden also signed an executive order mandating that at least half of all light-duty commercial motor vehicles be electric by 2030 in an effort to further reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.
“We’re looking forward to continuing our discussions to educate and help form the next round of low nitrogen oxide standards,” said American Trucking Associations’ energy and environmental counsel, Glen Kedzie. “Likewise, ATA stands ready to be engaged with both EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the establishment of the next round of truck greenhouse gas and fuel-efficiency standards.”
Organizations across the country will need to work together to find the best methods of implementing these climate crisis-tackling standards and regulations, explained Kedzie.
“With clean technologies advancing at such a rapid pace, it’s inherent for federal agencies to understand how these technologies will be deployed and utilized within individual trucking operations,” he said.
In fact, some groups have found one aspect of trucking in which lowering greenhouse gas emissions should be one of the first areas of focus in regards to these new regulations.
“One area [in which] technologies can improve emission outcomes relates to trucks operating at what are known as ‘low loads,’” said EPA. “EPA’s analysis of trucking emissions has shown that current nitrogen oxide controls are not effective under certain low-load operating conditions, such as when trucks idle, move slowly, or operate in stop-and go traffic. Emission-control technologies that can help reduce nitrogen oxide emissions under low-load conditions now exist, and they represent one area [in which] EPA intends to focus as it develops a new nitrogen oxide regulation.”