This blog post was originally posted to the Public Policy & Sustainability Blog by Doug Stotlar, president and chief executive officer of Con-way Inc. Stotlar, along with Tommy Hodges, chairman of American Trucking Associations, and other industry executives joined President Obama at a Rose Garden signing ceremony earlier this year that laid the groundwork for new fuel efficiency standards for the trucking industry.
Over the course of history, the White House Rose Garden has been the venue for many Presidential decisions which heralded a new direction for our country. Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to participate in one such event that, hopefully, we can look back on years from now and recall as the beginning of important change for our citizens, our nation and our industry.
The event was the signing by President Barack Obama of an official presidential memorandum on Fuel Efficiency Standards, which directed his administration to establish fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for commercial medium- and heavy-duty vehicles beginning with the nation's 2014 models.
In a country so reliant on fossil fuels, increasing fuel efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a goal worthy of everyone. The President's action recognized the efforts of a group of industry leaders who see this goal as not only worthy for the environment, but necessary for our business. And that's the Heavy-Duty Fuel Efficiency Leadership Group, a diverse coalition of trucking fleets and related technology providers formed earlier this year.
The mission of the group is to assist federal agencies in formulating effective policies to reduce GHG emissions and increase fuel efficiency in heavy-duty commercial vehicles, while avoiding unintended consequences that could disrupt the industry and our economy.
This group, of which Con-way is a founding member, believes that a strong GHG/fuel efficiency program can result in significant environmental, economic and national security benefits. Encouragingly, the President's call to action emphasized the importance of collaboration between government and industry as the path forward to developing, refining and implementing effective policy.
To that end, the leadership group created and presented to the Administration and federal agencies a Statement of Principles to support and help guide the rulemaking process. These basic principles call for future regulations to:
- Leverage and build upon on existing programs proven to be effective
- Emphasize the prompt deployment of viable technologies
- Recognize the diversity of medium- and heavy-duty fleets
- Are complemented by financial incentives and transportation policies that accelerate results
At Con-way, we've already taken many critical steps in that direction. We've implemented initiatives that include reducing the speed of our tractors, moving to single wide-base tires for decreased rolling resistance and better fuel economy, no-idling policies and reengineering our freight network to run fewer miles and use less fuel.
As President Obama noted that day, freight vehicles are thought to be responsible for approximately 20 percent of the GHG related to transportation. He believes that we can increase tractor-trailer fuel economy by as much as 25 percent using technologies that now exist.
This is an achievable goal — if industry and government work together in a true partnership to make it a reality. The outcome will be the first-ever national GHG/fuel efficiency program for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. It's a goal that has benefits for all — and one that, for the sustainability of our industry and our environment, deserves our full support.