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Ice Cream, Heavy Trucks, and Carbon Emissions

An op-ed by Jostein Solheim, CEO of Ben & Jerry's, supports the second phase of greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines and vehicles that would become effective 2018.
July 7, 2015, 10am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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I'm not sure how widespread in the corporate world the attitude expressed by Solheim and Ben & Jerry's is toward reducing carbon emissions, which they refer to as climate justice, but it's nice to read it in any case. The new rule, proposed June 19, stems from President Obama's decision to make climate change a legacy of his administration through executive action and rule-making by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

"As the planet gets warmer, we at Ben & Jerry’s want to be sure that our ice cream is produced with as few greenhouse gas emissions as possible, to keep our fans supplied with Cherry Garcia without making climate change even worse," writes Jostein Solheim

We’ve done our homework and know that 17% of our carbon footprint comes from transportation, from shipping our ice cream from the factory to our distribution centers.

Heavy over-the-road trucks move 70% of America’s freight, yet these trucks average only six miles per gallon, are the fastest-growing single source of carbon pollution in the US, and truck travel is projected to increase 40% by 2040 [EIA: Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (PDF)].

To respond to my initial question, Coral Davenport and Aaron M. Kessler of The New York Times write that "the reaction among truck manufacturers was mixed. Some say they will be able to adapt to the new standards, but others say it will require expensive new technology and may pose a challenge."

The proposal

"The new standards will require truck manufacturers to increase their fuel efficiency by about a third, up from the current average of about six miles a gallon," write Davenport and Kessler. "The E.P.A. estimates the cost of improving vehicle fuel-efficiency technology will be $10,000 to $12,000 per vehicle for the largest trucks and somewhat less for smaller trucks, but the agency estimates that those costs will be recouped by fuel savings in less than two years."

More corporate support

Another opinion expressing corporate support for the proposed rule was published in The Wall Street Journal, co-written by Indra K. NooyiChairman and Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo, with Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund.

The Phase Two rule will apply to trucks built from 2019 to 2027, and will be finalized next year. Phase One rules [PDF] adopted in August 2011 applied to vehicles built for the 2014 to 2018 model years.

Hat tip: Jesse Prentice-Dunn, representative for the Sierra Club's Responsible Trade Program.

Correspondent's note: While it's great to see increased fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, it would be even better to see advocates also mention the need to increase fuel taxes to compensate for reduced transportation revenue from "driving further on a gallon of gas or diesel."

Full Story:
Published on Friday, July 3, 2015 in The Guardian
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