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8/15/2011 8:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Fuel Economy Standards

This Editorial appears in the Aug. 15 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today. 

The Obama administration last week issued fuel-economy and carbon-dioxide standards for heavy-duty trucks, marking the federal government’s first foray into regulating our industry’s energy efficiency, and we must say, it was an enlightened step.

While some in the industry may complain about the addition to the growing burden of government regulations our industry must deal with, in the long run we all will benefit from the administration’s initiative and from its willingness to listen to trucking’s concerns as it drafted the new standards.

Rather than taking a blind, heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all approach, regulators at the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Administration took into consideration the fact the standards need to reflect the many different ways that trucks are used.

A tractor hauling a 53-foot dry van on interstate highways has a much different engine and gearing configuration than does a vocational truck used in stop-and-go refuse collection, rough-terrain construction hauling or beverage delivery in a crowded city. While a regulation specifically detailed for each and every application would be impossibly complicated, the standards try to address the broad differences among truck applications.

The industry has been moving in the direction of greater fuel efficiency for some time now, and the government’s mandate that trucks use 20% less fuel by 2017 will aid that effort.

For example, several years ago, mega-retailer Wal-Mart Stores, which operates more than 6,500 trucks, according the Transport Topics listing of the top 100 private fleets published this week in TT, announced a bold plan to slash its fuel consumption. And in response to diesel’s relentless upward climb, all the truck manufacturers have redesigned their tractors to maximize their aerodynamic efficiency, while a growing number of truckers have joined EPA’s SmartWay program.

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