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Trucks and Trailers Eyed for Better Fuel Efficiency

September 15, 2010

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - A hybrid in every garage is the mantra behind a new campaign by more than a dozen environmental groups to increase the car fuel efficiency standard to 60 miles per gallon (mpg), but in Wyoming, families are more likely to drive trucks. The National Resource Defense Council clean vehicles analyst Luke Tonachel says while trucks don't usually get much attention in the efficiency debate, he thinks there is technology available now to increase the mileage. He points to fuel savings for Wyoming consumers, and other benefits.

"Medium and heavy trucks consume 20 percent of the oil used in the transportation sector and emit about 20 percent of the transportation sector global warming pollution."

Yet, he adds that trucks nationwide only make up 4 percent of vehicles on the road. And, Tonachel says truck efficiency improvements don't have stop at the engine. He has found that trailer design, both large and small, needs an overhaul.

"Trailer efficiency could be improved dramatically through cost-effective aerodynamic adjustments and fuel-efficient tires."

Car and truck industry lobbyists claim there are safety trade-offs in boosting mileage, and that there isn't enough consumer demand to justify a government regulation. The NRDC, The Sierra Club and other groups are asking for better fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks starting in 2014, and a 60 mpg standard for cars by 2025.

The fuel efficiency campaign letter is at http://docs.nrdc.org/energy/ene_10090903.asp.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY