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EPA Advances Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goals, More Stringent Standards

Following the first rulemaking of its Clean Trucks Plan, which focuses on reducing emissions from smog and soot from heavy-duty engines and vehicles in model-year 2027, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed further reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, setting stronger carbon dioxide (CO2) standards for school buses.

The “Greenhouse Gas Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Phase 3” would apply to heavy-duty (HD) school buses and other vocational vehicles. These standards would complement the criteria pollutant standards for 2027 and beyond and represent the third phase of EPA’s Clean Trucks Plan. The proposal was announced on April 12, and the agency “is specifically proposing stronger CO2 standards for Model Year 2027 HD vehicles that go beyond the current standards that apply under the HD Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas program,” the website states.

The agency is also proposing an additional set of CO2 standards for HD vehicles that would begin to apply in model-year 2028, with progressively lower standards each model year through 2032. This would reportedly maintain the flexible structure created in EPA’s Phase 2 greenhouse gas program, which is designed to reflect the diverse nature of the heavy-duty industry.

A hearing is scheduled to occur on May 2 and 3.

“By proposing the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks, we are delivering on the Biden-Harris administration’s promise to protect people and the planet, securing critical reductions in dangerous air and climate pollution and ensuring significant economic benefits like lower fuel and maintenance costs for families,” stated EPA Administrator Michael Regan via a press release. “These ambitious standards are readily achievable thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which is already driving historic progress to build more American-made electric cars and secure America’s global competitiveness.”

The EPA added that the projected benefits of the Greenhouse Gas Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles-Phase 3, range from $180 billion to $320 billion. “The proposal is projected to avoid 1.8 billion tons of CO2 through 2055, equivalent to eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions from the entire current U.S. transportation sector for an entire year and deliver additional health benefits by reducing other pollutants from these vehicles,” the press release adds. “The standards would result in improved air quality nationwide, and those who live near major roadways and are disproportionately exposed to vehicle pollution and heavy-duty activity, which often includes low-income populations and communities of color, would benefit most directly.”

Meanwhile, the other proposed rulemaking focuses on light and medium-duty vehicles and addresses multi-pollutant emissions, including greenhouse gas emissions and emissions that form smog and soot for model-year 2027 and later commercial pickup trucks and vans. Many school districts buy these vehicles, too, to either supplement school-bus transportation, for staff use, or to conduct maintenance or other work.

The “Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light Duty and Medium Duty Vehicles,” builds on EPA’s existing emissions for passenger cars and light trucks from Model Year 2023 to 2026.

“The proposed standards are also projected to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles,” the EPA states. “Depending on the compliance pathways manufacturers select to meet the standards, EPA projects that EVs could account for 67 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales and 46 percent of new medium-duty vehicle sales in Model Year 2032. The proposed MY 2032 light-duty standards are projected to result in a 56 percent reduction in projected fleet average greenhouse gas emissions target levels compared to the existing MY 2026 standards. The proposed MY 2032 medium-duty vehicle standards would result in a 44 percent reduction compared to MY 2026 standards.”

Related: EPA CSBP Payment Request Deadline This Month
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Related: Transportation Directors Consider Path Toward 100-Percent Electric Fleets
Related: Webinar Discusses Ways to Fund Electric School Buses

Plus, the final rule for “Control of Air Pollution from New Motor Vehicles: Heavy Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards,” is now in effect and sets stronger emissions standards to further reduce air pollution, including pollutants that create ozone and particulate matter, from heavy-duty vehicles and engines starting model-year 2027. School Transportation News has previously reported on this rulemaking.

“The final program includes new, more stringent emissions standards that cover a wider range of heavy-duty engine operating conditions compared to today’s standards, and it requires these more stringent emissions standards to be met for a longer period of time of when these engines operate on the road,” The EPA website states. “This final rule is consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order, “Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks” and is the first step in the Clean Trucks Plan.

“The final rule also includes amendments regarding the confidentiality of certain information submitted to EPA for engines, vehicles, and equipment subject to emission standards and other requirements under the Clean Air Act. In addition, the final rule includes other limited amendments to the regulations that implement our air pollutant emission standards for other sectors (e.g., light-duty vehicles, marine diesel engines, locomotives, various types of nonroad engines, vehicles, and equipment).”

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