US Vehicle Emissions and Fuel Economy Standards

    The “Question of the Month” is published monthly by The Clean Cities Technical Response Service (TRS) and answers a frequently asked question received by the TRS.

    Question: What are the federal emissions and fuel economy standards for current and future on-road vehicles? Have any related emissions and fuel regulations been passed recently?

    Answer: Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and the associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards set requirements for new light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicle models with the goal of improving theoverall fuel efficiency and environmental impact. Fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles were introduced inthe Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975; regulations were established for on-road vehicles beginning with Model Year (MY) 1978. EPCA grants the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the authority to regulate CAFE standards, with the requirement that new standards may not be proposed more than five model years at a time.

    In 2010, NHTSA partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue the first joint program that includes both fuel economy requirements under NHTSA’s CAFE program and emissions standards under EPA’s GHG emissions program. Starting with MY 2012 vehicles, manufacturers are required to improve fleet-wide fuel economy and reduce fleet-wide GHG emissions by approximately 5% each year. By 2016, vehicles must meet an estimated combined average emissions level of no more than 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. If the industry met this carbon dioxide standard solely through fuel economy improvements, vehicles would have an average fuel economy of35.5 miles per gallon (mpg). For more information, see the EPA fact sheet:

    NHTSA and EPA established the CAFE and GHG emissions standards for MY 2017 through MY 2025 passenger cars and light-duty trucks in 2012 in two phases, which are broken down as follows:

      Model Years Average Fleet-Wide Fuel Economy
    Phase 1 MY 2017-MY 2021 40.3-41.0 mpg (by MY 2021)
    Phase 2* MY 2022-MY 2025 48.7-49.7 mpg (by MY 2025)

    *Proposed, pending final rule

    For more information, refer to the EPA fact sheet:

    In 2011, NHTSA and EPA set the first-ever standards to reduce GHG emissions and improve fuel efficiency ofmedium- and heavy-duty vehicles (vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds). Thestandards cover MY 2014 through MY 2018 on-road vehicles and are tailored to each of three main regulatory subcategories:

    • Combination tractors (also known as semi trucks);
    • Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans; and
    • Vocational vehicles (such as delivery, refuse, and tow trucks; transit, shuttle, and school buses; and emergency vehicles).

    The requirements provide flexibility through an emissions and fuel consumption credit system to help reduce theoverall costs of the program and to allow manufacturers time to make necessary technological improvements.

    For more information on fuel economy and GHG emissions standards, refer to the NHTSA CAFE – Fuel Economy (, EPA Transportation and Climate (, and ( websites.

    On March 29, 2013, EPA announced their Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards Program, which includes more stringent tailpipe emissions standards for non-methane organic gas (NMOG), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM); more stringent evaporative vehicle emissions; and lower sulfur content of gasoline. This proposal aligns vehicle standards with the GHG emissions standards outlined above, as well as the California Low Emission Vehicle Program (, allowing automakers to sell the same vehicle models in every state. The standards would apply to light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles, and some heavy-duty vehicles and include different phase-in schedules based on vehicle class from MY 2017 to MY 2025. The proposed gasoline sulfur standard would make emission control systems more effective for both existing and new vehicles. For more information, refer to the proposed rule ( andthe EPA Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards Program website (

    For more up-to-date information about federal and state vehicle standards, refer to the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Federal Incentives and Laws website (

    Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

    [email protected]


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    LCF Partners with LDEQ for EPA Advance Program

    LCF is pleased to announce our participation in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Advance Program, partnering with the Capital Region Planning Commission, the Baton Rouge Clean Air Coalition and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

    In a letter to LCF, the EPA’s director of the Outreach and Information Division, Gregory Green stated that our “participation will offer considerable benefits to the ongoing efforts in the area to improve air quality.”

    The Advance Program is a collaborative effort by states and local governments to encourage emission reductions to that will yield continued attainment with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Participants in the Ozone Advance program are required to submit an action plan that outlines what the areas have done to address emission standards as well as what their plans for ozone reduction are for the future.

    Lauren Stuart, Executive Director of the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition, explains the role of transportation in air quality: ”at a time when many areas of the state are becoming more concerned with ozone formation, alternative fuel options for transportation are an important part of addressing the air pollution problem.”

    Ms. Stuart will be appearing on WAFB Morning Show, Sunday Morning to discuss LCF’s involvement in the Advance Program through EPA and air quality issues in the  Baton Rouge area. In the Baton Rouge area, please tune in to WAFB, Channel 9 at 8am on April 28th.

    On April 29, Ms. Stuart, will speak about alternative fuels and air quality at the Advance Program press conference hosted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality at 10 a.m in the conference center. The Press conference will be opened by DEQ Secretary, Peggy Hatch. There will be four short presentations by Michael Vince, DEQ; Mike McDaniel, PhD, facilitator, Baton Rouge Clean Air Coalition; Ravi Ponnapureddy, Capital Region Planning Commission; and Lauren Stuart, LCF.

    The EPA Advance Program press conference information is as follows:

    Monday, April 29, 2013

    10 a.m., DEQ Conference Center

    Oliver Pollock Room

    602 N. 5th Street,

    Baton Rouge

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    Louisiana Clean Fuels at the Capitol

    Louisiana Clean Fuels — in partnership with its clean fuel stakeholders, held a press conference, alternative fuel vehicle display, and ride and drive event on Monday, April 22nd at AZ Young Park in downtown Baton Rouge.

    In celebration of Earth Day, the LCF hosted an educational presentation for Louisiana policy makers and press regarding the benefits of alternative fuels. At a time when many areas of the state are becoming more concerned with ozone emissions, alternative fuels are an important part of addressing the air pollution problem.  According to LCF Executive Director, Lauren Stuart, “clean fuels offer invaluable benefits to the state of Louisiana. By diversifying our transportation fuels, we can improve local air quality, strengthen the regional economy, and advance national energy independence.”

    The Clean Fuels press conference took place at 1:30 on the steps of the State Capitol. Speakers included LCF executive director, Lauren Stuart, owner of Baton Rouge based Stop-and-Go Driving Academy, Kay Wallock, director of the Lafayette Parish School System, William Samec, Louisiana State Representative, Stephen Ortego, and commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Mike Strain.

    “As a public servant, I, along with my management and finance team, are always looking for ways to cut costs and save taxpayers money. So far, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has purchased one compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle but plans to purchase more to test the product in our effort to save money, improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The CNG fuel costs, on average, $1.69 per gallon and unleaded fuel, on average, costs $3.25 per gallon.  So far, we are seeing a benefit and a cost savings for the department,” said Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain.

    Representative Stephen Ortego is currently working to pass legislation that protects alternative fuel vehicle and infrastructure tax credits in Louisiana. He explained the energy security aspects of alternative fuels, “Louisiana can be a leader towards energy security for the United States by pushing alternative fuel vehicles who run on the very natural resources we produce. We are the number one producer of natural gas in the country and the number two producer of propane gas.  Why not push for vehicles like these?”

    Vehicles on display included the Lafayette Parish School System propane-powered school bus, converted CNG Ford pickup trucks from Niyato Industries and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, CNG Civics from Stop-and-Go Driving Academy and Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, plugin electric vehicles from Royal Nissan and Gerry Lane Chevrolet, as well as hybrid-electric luxury vehicles from Brian Harris BMW, Mercedes Benz of Baton Rouge and Price LeBlanc Lexus.

    Clean Cities is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program. LCF is a designated affiliate of the national Clean Cities program and receives additional support from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. The mission of the LCF is to advance the nation’s environmental, economic and energy security by supporting local actions to provide transportation fuel options.

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    New CNG Station to Open in Houma

    GBRCCC, Terrebonne Parish, CNGNow and Gaubert Oil invite you to the ground breaking ceremony Friday, April 18th at 11AM. View the press release.

    Gaubert Oil
    551 South Van Avenue
    Houma, Louisiana


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    Baton Rouge Celebrates Earth Day

    Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities to Exhibit Alt Fuel Vehicles at Earth Day in Downtown Baton Rouge

    Sunday, April 21st, join the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition at Louisiana 2013 Earth Day celebration!

    Located in downtown Baton Rouge, this event is one of the largest environmental festivals in the nation. With an exciting music line-up from noon ’till 8:30pm, it’s no wonder. Headlining artists performing on the festival stages include Wayne Toups, Geno Delafose & the French Rockin’ Boogie, and the Mulligan Brothers just to name a few!

    Stop by the GBR Clean Cities’ tents on the corner of North Blvd. & 4th Street between 12-5pm to see a line-up of another kind. You’ll see us in front of the City Club of Baton Rouge with a banner and clean fuel exhibit. Our display will feature alternative fuel vehicles including:

    - Compressed Natural Gas Converted Ford Pick-Up
    - Compressed Natural Gas, Honda Civic GX & Chevy Tahoe
    - Plug-In Electric Vehicle, Nissan Leaf
    - Bio Fuel Tahoe

    We are looking forward to seeing you and answering your questions about advanced vehicle technology and alternative fuel infrastructure. For more information about Louisiana Earth Day, visit Please send an email to [email protected] you have any questions about our display vehicles.

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    EV Federal Funding Opportunity

    Energy Department Announces New Funding to Advance Plug-in Electric Vehicle Technologies

    Official Announcement

    The Energy Department will select new research projects that focus on lowering the cost and increasing the efficiency of PEV components, as well as the development of models and tools to predict these vehicles’ performance and help improve fuel economy. The Department will fund projects across five major areas of research and development that cover 12 areas of interest, including:

    • Advanced lightweighting and propulsion materials
    • Advanced battery development
    • Power electronics
    • Advanced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems
    • Fuels and lubricants

    Read for more information or to apply

    Deadline for application: 4/29/13 at 8:00PM EST

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