New Rules Tighten Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Heavy Duty Vehicles

By September 26, 2016 No Comments

STP, 15 September 2016

The Clean Air Act (CAA) includes extensive regulatory requirements on ‘mobile sources,’ which cover efficiency and emissions standards for a broad range of vehicles with internal combustion engines (automobiles, buses, aircraft), ‘nonroad engines and vehicles’ (including lawnmowers, bulldozers and marine vessels), as well as motor fuel standards intended to promote cleaner burning fuels.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses CAA authority to set emission limits from engines, for CAA-regulated air pollutants, including carbon dioxide (CO2) regulated for its greenhouse gas (GHG) aspects.  CAA does not address vehicle efficiency directly.

Instead, national vehicle fuel economy standards are set under authority of the Energy Conservation Act of 1975 by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).  EPA and NHTSA issue joint vehicle regulations, combining their complementary authority – more efficient engines burn less fuel and generally produce lower pollutant emissions.

These agencies also cooperate with the California Air Resources Board (ARB), which has some autonomous rule-setting authority under CAA, and also administers a wide variety of state-level controls on GHG emissions.  In August, EPA and NHTSA issued ‘Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles.’

The new standards apply to vehicles with gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds, and are tailored to subcategories within four regulatory categories of heavy-duty vehicles.

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