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Canada, U.S. announce plans for fuel-efficiency regulations for heavy trucks

Minister of the Environment Peter Kent a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday Feb. 8, 2011.


The Harper government says it will begin regulation greenhouse gas emissions from heavy trucks starting in the 2014 model year, as Ottawa moves in concert with the United States to address climate change.

The Canadian and U.S. governments both announced on Tuesday their intention to establish fuel-efficiency regulations by next year, that would take effect in 2014.

"We are moving forward with our sector by sector approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in coordination with the United States," Environment Minister Peter Kent said in a release. "Building on our successful collaboration with the United States on the development of common North American standards for light-duty vehicles, we are also working together to do the same for heavy-duty vehicles."

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The proposed regulations cover a full range of heavy-duty vehicles, from full-sized pickup trucks to tractor-trailers. They would also establish regulations for freight and delivery trucks, garbage and dump trucks and buses, and would encourage the adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Ottawa has already joined with the Obama administration in setting tough new fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars, with both countries pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.

The two governments are also promising new regulations for industrial emitters, but have yet to spell out a clear policy for companies such as oil sand producers, cement makers and mining companies.

The U.S. government said its trucking regulations would cut emissions by 23 per cent for big rigs, 10 per cent for pickups and vans, and 15 per cent for diesel-powered trucks. Canada has not published the targeted savings.

"These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector and promote energy independence for America," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Canadian trucking officials say they have been working with the government on the new regulations and accept the need for them.

"We're certainly not opposed in principle to fuel economy standards for heavy trucks," said Ron Lennox, vice-president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents 4,500 carriers.

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He said the truckers will want to see precise details before they can assess whether the fuel savings will offset higher vehicles costs.

But U.S. critics say the new rules will drive up the cost of vehicles and squeeze some smaller operators out of the trucking business.

That the new rules are expected to cost consumers an extra $1,050 U.S. for work trucks and $6,220 for super-cab tractors, said Thomas Pyle, president of the conservative Institute for Energy Research in Washington.

"As with the recently announced fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles, these new rules will benefit a small group at the expense of American consumers," Mr. Pyle said. Far from protecting the American public, President Obama is using the power of the federal government to protect large corporations from competition and to suppress entrepreneurs and small businesses.

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About the Author
Global Energy Reporter

Shawn McCarthy is an Ottawa-based, national business correspondent for The Globe and Mail, covering a global energy beat. He writes on various aspects of the international energy industry, from oil and gas production and refining, to the development of new technologies, to the business implications of climate-change regulations. More

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