The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Proposed Truck Regulations: 'An Empty Suit'

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted November 5, 2010

In another example of overreaching, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have joined forces to produce the first ever greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses.

The two agencies say the new proposed rules will generate $41 billion in net savings, reduce GHG emissions by 250 million tons, and lower oil imports by 500 million with the introduction and use of 2014-2018 model year vehicles. But will they really do that?

No, says blogger Marlo Lewis at MasterResource. He crunched the EPA's own numbers and arrived at a very different conclusion:

"Although the ostensible objective of the rule is to reduce GHG emissions and oil imports, the overwhelming share of the claimed benefits (fuel savings for truckers) has nothing to do with either climate change or energy security. For example, based on the unverifiable assumption that each ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted has a 'social cost' of $22.00, the agencies attribute only $2.3 billion -- about 6% -- of the rule's net benefits to its CO2 reductions and climate impact (p. 355)... The climate change 'benefit,' if any, would exist only on paper. There would be no discernible evidence of it in the real world.

"EPA's calculations (p. 284) implicitly confirm this. By 2100, the proposed GHG standards are estimated to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration by 0.732 parts per million, which in turn is estimated to avert 0.002-0.004°C of global warming and 0.012-0.048 centimeters of sea-level rise. Such changes would be too small for scientists to distinguish from the 'noise' of natural climate variability."

In a news release, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson says the new truck and bus rules will reduce GHG emissions, strengthen the economy, reduce costs for small businesses, reduce oil imports, and represent "another step in our work to develop a new generation of clean, fuel-efficient American vehicles." That's quite a laundry list of desired accomplishments for one regulation.

Marlo says the new truck and bus rules are based on EPA's and NHTSA's "organizational interest in exaggerating the benefits and understating the risks of fuel-economy mandates." In terms of decreasing GHG emissions or improving U.S. energy security, he calls them "an empty suit."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.