President Obama Pushes Fuel Efficiency For Big Trucks

by Christopher DeMorro.

Originally published on Gas2.

America's Supertruck project aims to improve big rig fuel economy by 50% no later than 2016.
America’s Supertruck project aims to improve big rig fuel economy by 50% no later than 2016.

Medium and heavy-duty trucks account for 25% of all fuel use in America, and President Obama wants to improve their efficiency by an “ambitious” amount. But can Obama get it done before his presidency comes to a close?

In his most recent State of the Union address, Obama’s energy goals were fixated on natural gas and semi-truck fuel economy. This isn’t exactly new territory for the Obama administration, which has helped fund the Supertruck project that aims to improve big rig fuel economy by 50% by 2016.

So far the Supertruck has delivered some promising results, achieving an average fuel economy of nearly 10 MPG without any fancy drivetrains or alternative fuels.

Not that Obama isn’t pushing for those advances either. Testing on hybrid and CNG-powered semis is already under way on several different fronts, and natural gas maven T. Boone Pickens isn’t sitting quietly on the sidelines either.

Obama has delivered on the details though in a recent speech at a Safeway distribution center in Maryland, where he outlined several aspects of the proposed plan that gets trucks on clean street as early as 2016. The efficiency-improvement plan takes place in steps, and begins with the setting of new medium and heavy-duty fuel economy and emissions standards by March of 2016.

The administration is also going to push for more powertrain diversity among big rigs, from hybrids to CNG to more aerodynamic solutions. The goal is to cut fuel consumption, one of the single biggest expenditures owner-operators suffer on the open road. But don’t expect these standards to go into effect without a fight, as Obama also wants to end some $4 billion in oil and gas subsidies to major corporations, putting that money towards cellulosic ethanol and other biofuel research.

It’s a step in the right direction for Obama, but it could come a little too late in his presidency. By March of 2016, Obama will have less than a year left in office. While the trucking industry seems receptive to these ideas and ambitions, how will buyers react to the higher prices this new technology adds to their bottom line?

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This article, Obama Encourages Fuel Efficiency Improvement For Trucks, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Energy Policy. Chris DeMorroChristopher DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMI’s. When he isn’t wrenching or writing, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

Why are Environmentalists excited about the Natural Gas boom?

Why are Environmentalists excited about the Natural Gas boom? | 18/03/13
by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the cleanest fossil fuel of all?

You guessed it! Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel – and by significant margins as data from the Environmental Protection Agency illustrates in the chart below.

Fossil Fuel Emission Levels in pounds per billion Btu of energy input. Source: EPA Natural Gas Issues and Trends 1998
Fossil Fuel Emission Levels in pounds per billion Btu of energy input. Source: EPA Natural Gas Issues and Trends 1998

Natural gas, as the cleanest of the fossil fuels, can be used in many ways to help reduce the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere.

Burning natural gas in the place of other fossil fuels emits fewer harmful pollutants, and an increased reliance on natural gas can potentially reduce the emissions of many of the most harmful pollutants. — naturalgas.org

After investigating the externalities associated with conventional sources of energy and cognizant of their commitments towards clean air, many nations have begun to embrace natural gas as a stepping stone towards a cleaner energy future.

In the U.S.A., as far back as 2003 when coal supplied more than 50% of America’s electrical power, coal-fired plants have been retired more quickly than new ones have come online. By 2012, coal supplied only 38% of U.S. electricity.

Nine gigawatts of U.S. coal-fired power generation was shut-down in 2012 alone, and replaced by an almost equal amount of natural gas power generation. Emission levels from those comparably-sized replacement natural gas power plants are less than half of those retired coal-fired plants!

Many more U.S. coal-fired power plants are scheduled for complete shutdown, or conversion to natural gas over the next few years totalling 35 GigaWatts (GW) according to the experts.

Chart courtesy of the U.S. Energy Information Administration — shows carbon emissions dropping as a result of switching from coal to natural gas,  2005-2012.

U.S. Carbon Emissions by Sector. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
U.S. Carbon Emissions by Sector. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Carbon emissions of all end-use Sectors have decreased since 2005 in the United States.

The largest reductions appear to be due to the Electric Power and Transportation sector’s emissions, followed by the Industrial, Residential and Commercial sectors.

[Of all sectors] “the largest reduction to carbon emissions is due to coal-to-natural gas ‘fuels switching’ and construction of higher efficiency power plants. 

Expansion of renewable power, overwhelmingly due to expanded wind power, has been the second largest factor to reduced Power Sector carbon emissions.” – theenergycollective.com

Many expert studies show CO2 emissions dropping as a result of the combined effects of many countries switching from coal to natural gas and/or renewables, 1990-2100.

Chart depicts probable CO2 levels, depending on the choices we make. Image courtesy of Royal Dutch Shell 'New Lens Scenarios'
Chart depicts probable CO2 levels, depending on the energy choices we make. Image courtesy of Royal Dutch Shell ‘New Lens Scenarios’

The change-up to renewable energy will vary by country as OECD nations continue to take the lead in renewable energy between now and 2100. Even so, total worldwide emissions will drop dramatically and the switch from coal to natural gas is one big step towards a cleaner environment.

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