EPA Takes First Step to Increase Energy Efficiency of Freight Transport

EPA Takes First Step to Increase Energy Efficiency of Freight Transport

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a new partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy in the movement of goods. Major shippers and carriers are among the charter partners in the new initiative, called the SmartWay Transport Partnership.

"Fuel costs are an important part of the bottom line for the freight business, so these folks are pretty savvy about many aspects of energy efficiency," said Therese Langer, transportation program director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. "But there are still plenty of opportunities to cut fuel use, as well as tailpipe emissions. EPA's initiative can help the industry to bring new vehicle technologies into the market and promote state-of the-art practices in logistics, idling reduction, and intermodal goods movement."

The EPA program will provide an incentive to improve environmental performance by allowing certain shippers and carriers to use the SmartWay logo. How EPA will determine which partners may use the logo has not been fully established. ACEEE deputy director Bill Prindle noted, "Since freight movement consumes 30% of energy used for transportation in the U.S., it's important for EPA to set aggressive reduction targets for the program."

EPA has laid out an array of technologies and practices that trucking companies and shippers may use to boost their performance. Intermodal operators and railroads have less opportunity to participate at this stage, even though they represent a key to efficient freight movement, from the perspectives of both energy and logistics. "Congestion on urban roadways threatens the just-in-time delivery practices that underlie operations critical to today's economy," said Langer. "Efficient use of our entire freight system is necessary to reduce time, energy, and infrastructure costs, so we look forward to EPA's tackling that broader set of issues through the SmartWay program in the future."

"If the program reaches the savings EPA projects of nearly one-half million barrels of oil per day, it will be making a substantial contribution toward reducing U.S. petroleum consumption," said Prindle.