The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Tuesday that new heavy truck makers will have to cut nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 80 percent, the latest move in an effort toward implementing the Biden administration’s “Clean Truck Plan.”
The new standards will go into effect from 2027.
Specifically, nitrogen oxide emissions from new semis and other heavy trucks will be limited to 35 milligrams per horsepower-hour. The current standard is 200 milligrams, the EPA said.
Nitrogen oxide is a sharp sweet-smelling gas that is released into the air from conventional vehicles, the burning of coal, oil, or natural gas, or through other processes such as arc welding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The gas is also used in the manufacturing of lacquers, dyes, and other chemicals, as well as rocket fuels and explosives.
While everyone is exposed to small amounts of nitrogen oxide in daily life, high exposure can lead to issues including respiratory illness, cardiovascular problems, and even death.
Officials said the latest standards will cut smog- and soot-forming emissions from heavy-duty trucks and help move America’s “highly polluting heavy-duty trucking fleet towards low-carbon and electric technologies.”
Biden Admin Pushes for Zero-Emission Vehicles
The move comes as the Biden administration works toward transitioning to zero-emission vehicles and continues to push for Americans to use electric vehicles, despite them being largely unaffordable for many.
“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 in a statement.
“But we’re not stopping there. This is just the first action under EPA’s Clean Trucks Plan to pave the way toward a zero-emission future. These rigorous standards, coupled with historic investments from the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will accelerate President [Joe] Biden’s ambitious agenda to overhaul the nation’s trucking fleet, deliver cleaner air, and protect people and the planet.”
The agency also says the new rule, which includes provisions for longer useful life and warranty periods, will bring in $29 billion in annual net benefits.
New Rule Will Be a ‘Challenge to Implement’
The new rule also requires vehicle makers to better ensure that engines and emission control systems work properly on the road.
According to the EPA, catalytic reduction technology is available for truck engine manufacturers to meet the large reduction in nitrogen oxide starting in 2027. It added that the new standards are “feasible.”
As heavy trucks are slowly replaced by newer vehicles, manufacturers should reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 48 percent by 2045, the EPA said.
The latest rule is part of EPA’s “Clean Trucks Plan,” which was first announced in August 2021 and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants from heavy-duty trucks through the implementation of a number of new rules over the next three years.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents independent truck drivers, said the new rule will effectively push truck owners to stay with older, less-efficient vehicles as they will no longer be able to afford new ones.
Elsewhere, the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association said the newly-announced measure will be a challenge to implement but said it will work with members to ensure it is.
“Ultimately the success or failure of this rule hinges on the willingness and ability of trucking fleets to invest in purchasing the new technology to replace their older, higher-emitting vehicles,” the association said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.