The recently-released proposed fuel efficiency requirements for light-duty vehicles by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggest that natural gas is an important part of the climate change battle. It reflects significant work by Natural Gas Vehicles for America (NGVAmerica) and other natural gas vehicle (NGV) advocates.
“By reopening a comprehensive, data-driven review of light-duty fuel-efficiency standards… parity, consistency, and clarity…can result. It is important that the resulting rule honors consumer choice, ensures flexibility for automakers in meeting aggressive environmental targets, and preserves the ‘One National Program’ regulatory structure,” says Daniel Gage, President of Natural Gas Vehicles for America.
The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks proposal initiates a process to establish a new 50-state fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions standard for passenger cars and light trucks.
“This joint proposal by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency to update national automobile fuel-economy and greenhouse gas standards reflects a growing understanding in Washington that natural gas must be a growing part of the transportation fuel mix if we are to successfully address climate change concerns in a timely and cost-effective way,” said NGVAmerica President Dan Gage. “NGVAmerica greatly appreciates the Administration’s work to offer a regulatory framework within which all alternative fuels including natural gas can compete based on their full emissions benefits.”
Among numerous natural gas citations, the August 2nd notice includes, “EPA received input from several industry stakeholders who supported expanding [these] incentives to further incentivize vehicles capable of operating on natural gas, including treating incentives for natural gas vehicles on par with those for electric vehicles and other advanced technologies, and adjusting or removing the minimum range requirements for dual fueled CNG vehicles.”
In their April 2nd announcement, EPA and DOT acknowledged that the current regulatory framework fails to account for the full scope of environmental benefits of other alternative fuel technologies like NGVs.
Natural gas has a strong record as a clean, zero emission-equivalent, domestically-available transportation fuel. And when the newest Ultra Low-NOx natural gas engines are fueled with biogas – or renewable natural gas – captured from landfills, wastewater, and food and agricultural waste, its results are carbon neutral or even carbon negative.
“We are working so that, once concluded, this process to update fuel efficiency requirements will incentivise manufacturers to produce more NGVs and light-duty fleets to utilize more NGVs nationwide,” added Gage. “Market realities prove consumers want choice. Increased natural gas options should be one, but we need a level playing field to make that happen.”
As the rulemaking process continues, NGVAmerica will continue to work with its members to provide EPA and DOT guidance related to alternative fuel parity and incentives that expand the production and use of clean, domestically-fueled natural gas vehicles.
NHTSA and EPA are seeking public feedback to ensure that all potential impacts concerning today’s proposal are fully considered and hope to issue a final rule this winter. NHTSA sets and enforces the CAFE standards, while EPA calculates average fuel economy levels for manufacturers, and sets related reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards. The public will have 60 days to provide feedback once published at the Federal Register.
Details can be found at NHTSA’s website www.NHTSA.gov/SAFE and EPA’s website.
Sources: NGVAmerica (an affiliated association of NGV Global), NHTSA and EPA