U.S. EPA publishes emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles

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by Emily Atkins

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the strongest-ever national clean air standards to cut smog- and soot-forming emissions from heavy-duty trucks beginning with model year 2027.

The new standards, which is the first update to clean air standards for heavy duty trucks in more than 20 years, are more than 80 percent stronger than current standards.This final rulemaking is the latest step toward implementing the historic Clean Truck Plan, which is moving the American heavy-duty trucking fleet towards low-carbon and electric technologies. Funding from President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are accelerating innovation in zero-emissions truck technology.“EPA is taking significant action to protect public health, especially the health of 72 million people living near truck freight routes in America, including our most vulnerable populations in historically overburdened communities,” said EPA administrator Michael S. Regan.

The final standards will reduce deadly smog and soot from new heavy-duty trucks starting with Model Year 2027. EPA estimates that by 2045, the rule will result in fewer premature deaths, lower hospital admissions, and less asthma. It expects 78,000 fewer lost days of work, 1.1 million fewer lost school days for children and a net US$29 billion in annual net benefits.

Relative to current rules, the new standards are more than 80 percent stronger, increase useful life of governed vehicles by 1.5 to 2.5 times, and will yield emissions warranties that are 2.8 to 4.5 times longer. This final rule includes provisions for longer useful life and warranty periods.

The provisions require that as target vehicles age, they will continue to meet EPA’s more stringent emissions standards for a longer period of time. The rule also requires manufacturers to better ensure that vehicle engines and emission control systems work properly on the road. For example, manufacturers must demonstrate that engines are designed to prevent vehicle drivers from tampering with emission controls by limiting tamper-prone access to electronic pollution controls.

The announcement is the first of three major actions being taken under EPA’s Clean Trucks Plan.

In the coming months, EPA intends to release the proposals for the remaining two steps in the Clean Trucks Plan. These include the proposed “Phase 3” greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for heavy-duty vehicles beginning in Model Year 2027, as well as the proposed multipollutant standards for light- and medium-duty vehicles beginning in Model Year 2027.

These additional rules will consider recent Congressional action, including historic resources for electrification from the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that EPA anticipates will lead to swift adoption of zero-emission vehicle technologies. Taken together, these rules will put in place stringent long-term standards that will reduce dangerous smog, soot, and climate pollution from heavy-duty vehicles.