WASHINGTON, DC: August 17, 2016. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have published new standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks that would lower CO2 emissions by 1.1 billion tonnes and save vehicle owners fuel costs of about US$170 billion.

The EPA said the program is the result of four years of extensive testing and research and covers model years between 2018 and 2027 for trailers, semi-trucks, large pickup trucks, vans, and all types of buses and work trucks.

According to the agency, the buyer of a new truck/trailer in 2027 could recoup the extra cost of the technology in less than two years through fuel savings. In total, the program is expected to produce US$230 billion in net benefits to society over the lifetime of the new vehicles.

Lowes Smart WayNon-profit group Ceres, which directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk that represents over 120 institutional investors with collective assets of more than US$14 trillion, said it welcomed the new standards.

Carol Lee Rawn, director of the Ceres transportation program said: "This is great news for the trucking industry and companies that are concerned about reducing their shipping costs. Because these vehicles are so large, even small improvements in fuel economy yield significant cost-savings through reduced oil use."

U.S. retailer Lowe's (right) is the only EPA shipper partner to receive six 'SmartWay' awards for environmental excellence in supply chains.

Rawn said the final standards are stronger than originally proposed and noted the Obama Administration has done more to reduce America's oil dependence than any other.

"Vehicles covered under the new rules comprise just 5 percent of those on the road, but consume 20 percent of U.S. transportation fuel. Transportation just overtook electricity as the largest source of U.S. emissions and trucking is the fastest growing source of emissions in the sector," she added.

According to Ceres, in April this year several U.S. natural food producers and their parent companies and retailers - including Annie's, General Mills, and Patagonia - cited this research when they encouraged federal agencies to adopt more ambitious standards.

In June Volkswagen reached an agreement with the U.S., the State of California and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to spend up to US$14.7 billion to settle allegations of cheating emissions tests and deceiving customers.