Trucking association looks to reduce carbon footprint

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Jessica Sabbath

Even before the “green” movement became a national phenomenon, the American Trucking Associations Inc. was developing a plan to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

“We wanted to be proactive versus reactive,” Glen Kedzie, ATA’s vice president of environmental affairs and assistant general counsel told Virginia Business on Thursday. “It’s the right thing to do for our industry, and it’s the right thing to do for our nation.”

Kedzie was in Richmond Thursday to share the ATA’s new sustainability strategies at the 2008 Commonwealth of Virginia Energy and Sustainability Conference.

The ATA has rolled out a six-step plan it says will reduce the diesel and gasoline fuel consumption by 86 billion gallons over the next 10 years. The plan, which includes a mix of self-initiatives and proposed government regulations, not only helps the association become a better environmental steward, but also save its members money on fuel consumption. “This is a partnership between industry and government,” Kedzie says. “Government has a major role in trying to jumpstart a lot of technologies that are currently on the cusp of development.”

Following are the ATA’s six strategies:

1) Reduce the national speed limit to 65 miles per hour. The ATA estimates that a truck traveling at 75 miles per hour consumes 27 percent more fuel than a truck going 65 miles per hour. The ATA estimates that a national speed limite would save 2.8 billion gallons of diesel fuel in 10 years.
2) Reduce idling. The ATA was federal and state tax credits for use of equipment on trucks that are idling. Idling trucks in congestion or while the driver is sleeping (to stay cool or warm) consumes 1.1 billion gallons of diesel fuel. The industry also wants the federal government to create standards for the technology. “We want to make sure that if we’re investing $100,000 to $200,000, that we are going to get fuel savings and that we are going to get carbon reductions,” Kedzie says.
3) Improve fuel efficiency. Encouraging ATA members to develop three-year plans to reduce fuel and green-house-gas emissions.
4) Reduce congestion. The association is also asking the government to increase the fuels tax to improve the nation’s roads. The industry says that reducing congestion could reduce truck carbon emissions by 45.2 million tons over the next 10 years.
5) Improving productivity. Convincing governments to raise weight requirements for trucks so that fewer trips are needed. The industry estimates that allowing gross vehicle weights up to 97,000 pounds would reduce emissions by 294.7 million tons. “If we ca increase the amount of goods that you can put in the back of a trailer, it will reduce the number of trucks on the nation’s roads,” says Kedzie.
6) Create national fuel-economy standards. The ATA wants to improve national standards to encourage new technologies for fuel economy. “The fuel economy in our industry has been relatively fast over the last quarter-century,” says Kedzie. “We get about 6-to-6.5 miles per gallon.” With national diesel prices reaching $4.76, better fuel economies are important to the industry.

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