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Driving to the Rose Garden

May 27, 2010

“The longest part of the journey is said to be the passing of the gate.” – Marcus Terentius Varro

On Friday, May 21, 2010, on a hot, humid morning in the Rose Garden of the White House, President Obama announced the date that fuel efficiency / greenhouse gas regulations for medium and heavy duty vehicles would be effective – 2014. This was very encouraging to those of us that had been working for this day for several years. We were motivated to do so because these vehicles account for approximately 20% of transportation’s fuel use. But, what efforts helped drive to this positive outcome?

  • In 2006, an organization called Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) produced a report, Recommendations to the Nation on Reducing U.S. Oil Dependence, calling for first-ever fuel economy standards for commercial vehicles. Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and CEO of FedEx Corporation, and General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, co-chaired this organization’s Energy Security Leadership Council, which oversaw this report’s development.
  • In January 2007, FedEx, the first transportation logistics company to do so, testified in front of the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, calling for Congress to “set fuel efficiency standards annually for medium and heavy-duty vehicles. This would help stimulate the production of hybrid electrics within the medium-duty vehicle sector, such as our pickup and delivery fleet, and alternatives for improved fuel efficiency in the heavy-duty vehicles.”
  • In late 2007 Congress passed, and President Bush signed, the Energy independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), legislating that the government establish first-ever fuel economy regulations for commercial vehicles.
  • In May 2008, the American Trucking Associations released their sustainability roadmap, incorporating the need for these standards in their plans – a significant change in policy and a progressive, pro-environment approach on their part.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation also began individual efforts to address this need for regulations, following EISA’s passage, along with the National Academy of Sciences on a study which was released in March 2010. Their outstanding efforts included a great deal of very good work by these agencies, with much expertise and help provided by truck and engine manufacturers and the Engine Manufacturers Association.
  • And, in early 2010, The Accord Group and SAFE formed the Heavy-Duty Fuel Efficiency Leadership Group, made up of the companies Con-way, Cummins, Eaton, FedEx, Wabash National and Waste Management, creating a set of principles with the goal of helping to inform and support a first-ever national greenhouse gas / fuel efficiency program for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. We ultimately shared these principles with the agencies in April 2010.

And, so, in late May 2010 representatives from these companies, agencies, and associations, along with select members of Congress and others, saw their drive rewarded within the gates of the White House grounds. My thanks to all of the fellow travelers within the government and business that helped make this possible. With work and support in both the previous and current administrations, we have been driving for a more sustainable transport future, and developing the necessary roadmap to get us there. We now have a view of what our destination will look like, and, importantly, when we’ll arrive.

For more, click on the links below:

American Trucking Associations’ Strategies for Reducing The Trucking Industry’s Carbon Footprint

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