The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks to reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.
In the press release Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx remarked, “Once upon a time, to be pro-environment you had to be anti-big-vehicles. In fact, these efficiency standards are good for the environment—and the economy. When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down. It’s good news all around, especially for anyone with an online shopping habit.”
EPA Secretary Gina McCarthy echoed those sentiments, saying, “With emission reductions weighing in at 1 billion tons, this proposal will save consumers, businesses and truck owners money; and at the same time spur technology innovation and job-growth, while protecting Americans’ health and our environment over the long haul.”
If that’s the case, why do we even need a private sector? If Washington bureaucrats know how to best provide for people and businesses, let’s just nationalize the trucking industry since they know how to maximize the operating efficiency of America’s long-haul vehicles.
The reality is the new mandate does nothing but take decisions away from private individuals and places them in Washington.
Auto manufacturers and the freight and long-haul transportation industry already understand the importance of fuel efficiency. Nearly 3 million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks carry approximately 70 percent of America’s freight, consuming more than 50 billion gallons in fuel and spending more than $140 billion in diesel costs. The industry operates on razor-thin margins and plans its driving routes down to the tenth of a mile to save on fuel costs.
Companies are driven to invest in innovative technologies or alternative fuel to lower costs when it makes sense for them to do so. Of course, the industry will support such programs, whether paid outright by the taxpayer or cost-shared with the taxpayer, because it substantially reduces their risk. The problem, however, is that the taxpayer money spent would have already been spent by the private sector if the idea was worthy of investment.
Americans pay for these regulations in other ways, too. For instance, to help the trucking industry meet these mandates, the Department of Energy budget funds “cost-shared projects with industry under the SuperTruck II Initiative to develop technologies to improve the freight hauling efficiency of heavy-duty Class 8 long-haul vehicles by 100 percent in 2020, compared to a 2009 baseline vehicle.”
The new mandate will be not be beneficial to the economy or the environment. New climate change-motivated fuel efficiency standards will simply mandate pricier technology that drives up the cost of trucks and takes choices away from producers, who then pass the costs onto consumers.
And no matter how much the administration chooses to regulate our economy for to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (cars, new power plants, existing power plants, fracking, airplanes, trucks), it will have virtually no impact on global temperature change.