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EPA Proposes 2nd Prong of Clean Truck Rule, Will Force Electrification of Medium/Light-Duty Vehicles

The first of three prongs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Trucks Rule, which will impose significantly stricter limits on emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from heavy-duty trucks and buses - an issue we told you about last month in our blog.

Now, the EPA has published the proposed second prong that, if finalized, will affect medium- and light-duty vehicles (including passenger cars), and place new limits on their emissions of NOx, non-methane organic gases, particulate matter (PM), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), and greenhouse gases on a fleet-wide basis.

In contrast to the first prong of the Clean Trucks Rule (which focused mainly on making the diesel engines that power trucks and buses much more efficient and less polluting), the second prong will work by setting fleet-wide emissions limits so low that a majority of new medium- and light-duty vehicles sold by the year 2032 should be electric.

EPA projects that the rule will reduce the fleet average emissions of greenhouse gases from new light-duty vehicles by 56% by the model year 2032, as compared to the model year 2026. Similarly, EPA estimates that the fleet average emissions of NOx and non-methane organic gases from light-duty vehicles for the model year 2032 will be 60% less than the model year 2025s.

Fleet average emissions for medium-duty trucks will drop by similar percentages by the model year 2032: 44% fewer greenhouse gases, and between 66% and 76% (depending on the exact class of medium-duty vehicle) NOx and non-methane organic gases.

EPA also predicts that the new standards will reduce fleet average emission of PM from both medium- and light-duty vehicles by a whopping 95%.

By 2055, the agency estimates the proposed rule will reduce emissions from oil refineries and medium- and light-duty vehicles of carbon dioxide by 420 million tons per year, fine particulate matter by 15,000 tons per year, NOx by 66,000 tons per year, volatile organic compounds by 220,000 tons per year, sulfur dioxide by 12,000 tons per year, and carbon monoxide by 1.8 million tons per year, net of increases in emissions from the electric generation resulting from increased demand for electricity to power the vehicles.

EPA claims that the present value of the health and climate change benefits that will flow from the rule by 2055 is between $350 and $590 billion and that the rule will also yield $450 to $890 billion of fuel savings.

Such benefits purportedly will be offset by estimated additional vehicle technology costs of between $180 and $280 billion, representing the increased cost of new vehicles that incorporate the technology needed to comply with the rule.

“Although EPA discussed the feasibility of upgrading the nation’s electrical grid and installing charging stations that will be needed for an increasingly electrified vehicle fleet to function in its proposed rulemaking, it does not appear that it estimated the costs for doing so or incorporated such costs into its cost-benefit analysis for the proposed new rule,” GASP senior attorney John Baillie explained.

The second prong of the Clean Trucks Rule represents a sweeping change for the automotive, transportation, refining, and electric generation industries, and it is expected to face legal challenges after it is finalized.

Stay tuned. We will keep you posted on new developments with the rule as they occur.

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