EPA Says New Heavy Vehicle Emissions Standards Offer Flexibility

EPA Says New Heavy Vehicle Emissions Standards Offer Flexibility

April 3, 2024
Final standards provide more time to develop clean heavy-duty vehicle technologies. 

Last week, the EPA announced final national greenhouse gas pollution standards for heavy-duty vehicle for model years 2027 through 2032.

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles - Phase 3 will avoid  one billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to the emissions from more than 13 million tanker trucks’ worth of gasoline.

The agency also said it will provide $13 billion in annualized net benefits related to public health, the climate, and savings for truck owners and operators.

EPA’s latest modeling shows that the final standards will result in greater reductions of pollution than the proposed rule, while providing more time and flexibility for manufacturers to develop, scale, and deploy clean heavy-duty vehicle technologies. 

“In finalizing these emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles like trucks and buses, EPA is significantly cutting pollution from the hardest working vehicles on the road,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, in a statement“Building on our recently finalized rule for light- and medium-duty vehicles, EPA’s strong and durable vehicle standards respond to the urgency of the climate crisis by making deep cuts in emissions from the transportation sector.”

Heavy-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Standards

The Phase 3” standards build on EPA’s Heavy-Duty Phase 2 program from 2016 and maintain that program’s flexible structure, which is designed to reflect the diverse nature of the heavy-duty vehicle industry. The standards are technology-neutral and performance-based, allowing each manufacturer to choose what set of emissions control technologies is best suited for them and the needs of their customers.

Available technologies include advanced internal combustion engine vehicles, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These new standards apply to heavy-duty vocational vehicles (such as delivery trucks, refuse haulers, public utility trucks, and transit, shuttle, and school buses) and tractors (such as day cabs and sleeper cabs on tractor-trailer trucks).

Relative to the proposal, EPA’s final rule provides more time in the early model years of the program for the development of vehicle technologies and deployment of charging and refueling infrastructure. The final rule also includes flexibilities that will assist manufacturers in meeting the standards in the early years of the program while preserving incentives for early adoption of advanced technologies.

The final heavy-duty greenhouse gas standards complete EPA’s Clean Trucks Plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollutants (including nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and air toxics) from heavy-duty vehicles through a series of rulemakings. These rules include today’s standards as well as (1) EPA’s recently finalized light- and medium-duty vehicle multipollutant standards for MY 2027-2032 (which covers Class 2b and 3 trucks), and (2) EPA’s December 2022 rule to control smog- and soot-forming emissions from heavy-duty engines and vehicles. The Clean Trucks Plan represents the most protective set of EPA regulations ever for the on-road sector, significantly reducing pollution, protecting public health, and responding to the urgency of climate change.

Phase 3 Implementation

EPA’s analysis finds that heavy-duty vehicle technologies, charging and refueling infrastructure, and supply chains will be available to support the final standards. At the same time, EPA has committed to actively monitor and track the technologies the heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers are developing and deploying, and the deployment of heavy-duty vehicle electric charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure in order to ensure the successful implementation of the Phase 3 program.

EPA will consult with a wide range of stakeholders on an ongoing basis to learn from their experiences and gather relevant information and data. These stakeholders will include, at a minimum, trucking fleets and trucking trade associations; heavy-duty vehicle owner-operators; heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers; investor-owned utilities, public utilities, and electricity cooperatives; infrastructure providers and installers; state and local governments, communities with environmental justice concerns; and environmental and public health NGOs.

In consultation with other agencies, beginning as early as 2026, EPA will issue periodic reports reflecting the collected information throughout the lead-up to and during the implementation of the Phase 3 standards. Based on these reports, the agency may decide to issue guidance documents, initiate a future rulemaking to consider modifications to the Phase 3 rule, or make no changes to the program.

In parallel to the Phase 3 rule, the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation and the Department of Energy, in collaboration with the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, recently announced the first-ever National Zero Emission Freight Corridor Strategy, an all-of-government action plan for deploying a world-class zero-emission freight network across the nation by 2040. The Strategy prioritizes high-traffic routes and freight hubs to catalyze four phases of public and private investment in heavy-duty zero-emission transportation, with a focus on reducing harmful emissions for the most affected communities.

Investing in America’s Clean Transportation Future 

The final standards align with and support the commitments and billions of dollars’ worth of investments from trucking fleets, vehicle manufacturers, and vehicle technology firms as they plan to increase the use or production of clean vehicle technologies in trucking and other heavy-duty fleets. These investments are resulting in a range of technologies with the potential for further significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty motor vehicles.

EPA recently announced the launch of the $3 billion Clean Ports Program to help tackle emissions from heavy-duty vehicles both in and out of U.S. port communities. Along with EPA’s long-standing Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program which reduces harmful emissions from diesel engines, the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Clean School Bus Program, and an upcoming clean heavy-duty program to fund the replacement of existing Class 6 or Class 7 vehicles with clean technology vehicles, we are making changes in communities now to reduce emissions from the heavy-duty fleet. Together, these programs are offering billions of dollars in funding to replace older vehicles and engines with clean vehicle technology options.

As the EPA finalizes the rule,  investment in on-going through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to promote clean transportation, including building a national network of EV chargers and alternative-fuel stations. In addition, funding through the Inflation Reduction Act will directly support the clean-vehicle transition through support for domestic battery manufacturing and clean vehicle purchases for owners, operators, and businesses.