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April 24, 2017 4:00 AM, EDT

Editorial: Saving the Planet? It’s on Us

This Editorial appears in the April 24 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

While President Donald Trump is calling for reversals of some environmental regulations, it’s important to note what isn’t changing. And that is the commitment that freight carriers, truck makers and even some shippers, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., are making to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

This past week, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, which faces a large cut in funding under the administration’s initial budget plan, recognized the efforts of several organizations, including American Trucking Associations, the Colorado Motor Carriers Association and Penske Truck Leasing Co., to curb fuel consumption and promote practices that protect the environment.

We do this not because we have to but because we need to, regardless of varying views of the effects of emissions on the Earth’s climate.

“Our federation is fully committed to reducing fuel use and emissions,” said Chris Spear, president of ATA, adding that the industry is “on a road to a sustainable future that shrinks our environmental footprint and boosts our bottom line.”

Wal-Mart underscored its commitment to the environment by setting a goal of eliminating 1 billion tons of emissions from its supply chain by 2030. That’s a big target, equivalent of taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off U.S. roads for a year, and one that will force suppliers, including freight carriers, to rethink how goods get from one place to another, how products are made and packaged and how we as consumers can drive positive change in the environment.

Despite lower fuel prices, truck manufacturers continue to make their diesel-powered tractors and trucks more fuel-efficient, and new players are promising even more radical changes. Tesla Inc. plans to launch an electric truck later this year, and Toyota has begun testing a truck at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach that uses a hydrogen fuel- cell system and produces zero emissions.

Even lowly forklift trucks are getting into the act with internet retailer Amazon.com agreeing to invest in hydrogen fuel-cell systems to power material handling equipment in its rapidly expanding network of fulfillment centers.

The way forward seems clear, and while Trump may want to see less regulation of companies that pollute the environment, we salute the actions of those who are committed to staying the course and making the choices that preserve the planet and our place on it.