President Obama’s order for the DOT and EPA to develop and issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) by March 2015 to increase Fuel Efficiency standards and Greenhouse Gas Emissions standards also calls for technological innovations and alternate fuels.
Is there a contradiction in this?
First, many are shaking their heads as the thought of being fuel efficient and reducing GHGE doesn’t seem logical. None the less, products are being introduced, accomplishing both and are available as we speak. (as in yesterdays post)
A question being asked is, what will be introduced in the NPRM? Will it include standards, criteria, and goals to establish fuel efficiency and emission requirements? Or will it dictate what HAS to be done to meet those standards? If the latter is the case, then where does the call for “Innovation for Technology” come into play? Will it be enough to have your truck meet all standards, utilizing new or existing technology? Or will you be told what you MUST employ as part of your strategy for meeting those standards. Perhaps purchasing a truck which meets the standards?
The problem as we see it is, innovative technology comes in all shapes and forms, not solely new truck and engine design. Mandates that include being required to purchase specific model/year trucks to meet fuel and emission standards will hurt the economy in general, including owner operators and small business, and will certainly squelch the incentive to strive for new technology to meet standards on older trucks. New truck and engine manufactures however will welcome any such required new truck mandate should it be a part of the rule.
The aggressive action being called for does not take into consideration the fragile economy nor the financial struggles that presently exist for owner operators and small fleets. In our opinion, truck owners should be able to maintain their present vehicle as long as they meet new fuel and emission standards ( that is the goal, right?). This would relieve not only financial stress for the industry, but also for businesses who have developed innovations already, meeting prior fuel and emission requirements.
So the question is: What will be the genuine goal for the DOT and EPA rulemaking? To have trucks meet standards for fuel efficient requirements and GHG emissions? Or to is it to dictate how those standards are to be met. If the latter tends to hold true, than the only technological innovation for the trucking industry which will have incentive could be engine and truck manufacturers.
Another question brought to mind is the thought, when will it end? Will following studies and rules later create more burden for the industry, 2,5 or 10 years down the road, creating even more urgency to purchase another wave of more efficient trucks?
Here’s a thought to expand on that: Natural Gas has long been considered a viable option for heavy duty vehicles for both reducing dependency on foreign oil and by reducing the carbon footprint. A recent study however suggest that Natural Gas may actually be worse for the climate, over the long run, than diesel-fueled vehicles.
So what happens to the fleet that purchases 100 trucks using NG only to find out studies confirm that NG emits far greater green house gases ( such as methane) than initially thought?
© 2014, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.