Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 16, 2016

Contact: Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364,

Obama Administration's Truck Pollution Rules Not Strong Enough to Protect Climate

Demonstration Trucks on Road Today Could Meet 2026 Fuel-economy Standard

WASHINGTON Final truck pollution rules released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fall short of what is needed to protect the climate from greenhouse gas emissions from medium and heavy-duty vehicles.

“Addressing truck pollution is urgent, but the Obama administration didn’t create fuel-economy standards strong enough to truly curtail this threat to our climate,” said Anna Moritz, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Federal officials sacrificed a golden opportunity to push this heavily polluting industry toward true technological innovation. Demonstration trucks on the road today achieve better fuel economy than these standards will require a decade from now.”  

Trucks and buses account for more than 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. transportation sector, even though they represent only about 5 percent of vehicles on the road. Truck emissions increased 71 percent between 1990 and 2013 and continue to grow.

The new standards also include trailers, which is an important step: The Clean Air Act clearly envisions that the whole vehicle will be covered, and trailers are a critical determinant of a truck’s fuel economy. Yet overall the rule could have achieved approximately 20 percent greater fuel savings. For instance, the new rules require an improvement in engine efficiency of only about 5 percent.

The final standards back-tracked from the original proposal, giving natural-gas trucks a free pass to pollute. EPA’s failure to address natural-gas vehicle emissions could undermine other reductions achieved by the new standards and sets a dangerous precedent for natural gas vehicles.

The new standards will cover model years 2021-2027 and apply to semitrucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks. Standards for trailers would start in model year 2018.

“With big truck emissions on the rise, we need truly technology-forcing standards, not the middle-of-the-road measures announced today,” Moritz said. “Auto and truck manufacturers have consistently met standards ahead of schedule, and technology has consistently outperformed the agencies’ predictions. It is clearly past time for the agencies to step up their game.”

Read more about the Center’s Climate Law Institute and its campaign to curb global warming pollution from transportation.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. 

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