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When it comes to climate mitigation opportunities, there is a simple reality: Benefits outweigh costs ...  enormously.

And, when it comes to climate mitigation and adaptation investments, we should be striving to achieve multiple wins from the same action wherever and whenever possible.

When looking at President Obama's announcement, this morning, of new truck energy efficiency standards, it is clear that the measure meets the criteria of multiple wins.  The fact sheet (see after the fold) title clearly points to this:

Opportunity For All: Improving the Fuel Efficiency of American Trucks – Bolstering Energy Security, Cutting Carbon Pollution, Saving Money and Supporting Manufacturing Innovation
And, President Obama emphasized that this was a 'win-win-win' opportunity in his speech this morning in Maryland.
improving gas mileage for these trucks are going to drive down our oil imports even further.  That reduces carbon pollution even more, cuts down on businesses’ fuel costs, which should pay off in lower prices for consumers. 

So it’s not just a win-win, it’s a win-win-win. 

You’ve got three wins.

Looking at the fact sheet, there is a quadruple win space laid out:
  • Energy efficient vehicles lower the nation's vulnerability to unstable global oil markets ;
  • Reduced fuel use, by definition, will contributing to lowering greenhouse gas emissions (compared to a business-as-usual case);
  • The upfront investment in more efficient vehicles will be more than compensated for in reduced fuel costs; and,
  • The drive for more efficient trucks, as is happening with automobiles, will spur innovation and increase American competitiveness.

This sounds tremendous ... however ... as is the case far too often, the proponents of action are yet again understating the full value of action.

This quadruple win actually significantly understates the full value streams as this move is actually a W6: a Win to the Sixth Power climate mitigation action.

As we strive to stop digging the holes deeper and climb our way out, we can seek to deal with these challenges in a stove-piped manner or address them with W6 solutions that have wins across multiple arenas:
  • Support energy independence
  • Create and protect jobs
  • Foster economic activity (cost effectively)
  • Strengthen long-term economic prospects
  • Address negative environmental impacts (from local pollution to acidification of the oceans)
  • Help mitigate climate change

As some are wont to say, crises create opportunities. One good piece of news, amid all the serious concerns that that list above should create for all of us, is the reality that many Win-Win-Win-Win-Win-Win (Win to the Sixth) opportunities lie before us, if we choose to seize them.
Let's look at just a few additional value streams from the move for more fuel-efficient vehicles:
  • Improved health and reduced health care costs:
    • Diesel fumes are directly linked to numerous health problems from irritated eyes, to asthma, to cancer, to ...
      • "Health studies show that exposure to diesel exhaust primarily affects the respiratory system and worsens asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and lung function. There is some evidence that diesel exhaust exposure can increase the risk of heart problems, premature death, and lung cancer."
      • "About 70 percent of the cancer risk that the average Californian faces from breathing toxic air pollutants stems from diesel exhaust particles".  One California study found that "diesel-particle levels measured in California's air in 2000 could cause 540 "excess" cancers (beyond what would occur if there were no diesel particles in the air) in a population of 1 million people over a 70-year lifetime."
    • The National Academy of Sciences estimated in the range of $0.16 per gallon of liquid fuel burnt in health care costs (which includes, by the way, gasoline which has lower health care implications).
      • The White House is estimating 530 million barrels of total fuel savings. Working with the NAS figure, $0.16 per gallon, this translates to $6.72 per barrel or roughly $3.6 billion in health care benefits. [FYI -- this is, imo, almost certainly far too low but is something to start with for discussion ...]
  • Job creation
    • The improved fuel efficiency is an investment -- an investment in 'capital' value.  That additional upfront investment translates into work in design facilities to get to the improved vehicles and in factory jobs to build better trucks.
  • Reduced fuel prices
    • Very basic economic principle: the law of supply and demand.  Reduced demand leads to lower prices.  Lowering US oil demand by 1 million barrels per day will, by definition, foster lower prices than what might have been the case with greater demand. If this is $2.50 per barrel and total US oil use were  15 million barrels per day, then this would have roughly $10 billion in reduced crude oil costs.
  • Economic strength
    • Even amid booming U.S. oil production, there is a simple reality: the United States imports oil.  Reduced oil demand translates directly to an improved balance-of-payments as every barrel of oil saved is, nowadays, roughly $100 less of import costs.
  • Improved trucking efficiency
    • Simply put, keeping all other factors the same, a more energy efficient system will have other efficiency benefits that build on the fuel efficiency. For truckers, this will mean greater flexibility as to when and where to refuel as they will not have to refuel as often.
  • And ...

In his speech today, President Obama highlighted that this is a "win-win-win" opportunity.  In fact, the President and the White House press release left out many wins from the discussion.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is important from an economic standpoint. (3+ / 0-)

    Truckers are paid $30,000 to $40,000 a year, yet they spend over half of that on fuel costs. So that will mean more money in the pocket for them.

    "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

    by Eternal Hope on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 10:53:52 AM PST

  •  i have always thought electric urban delivery (8+ / 0-)

    vehicles, doing lots of short hauls, would be an obvious place to start. also urban taxis.

  •  Massive improvements from aerodynanics (7+ / 0-)

    A long-haul freight truck is a huge non-aerodynamic box that spends most of it's time at 60+ mph. The gains from just focusing on aerodynamics are huge, as much as 50% improvement.

    I've seen lots of trucks lately with skirts under the trailer, those are supposed to help a bit. And a few trucks have collapsible boat tail assemblies, which are a big improvement. But the boat tail assemblies run the risk of making the truck longer than regulations allow. With a little bit of work from the appropriate regulatory bodies, both can become very common, if not mandatory.

  •  As a Truck Technician I ask (3+ / 0-)

    Just how exactly will this be accomplished?

    There are very few owner operators not beholden to a major carrier through their leasing programs. These company trjcjs have their settings set as lean as emission* requirements will let them.

    *Running an engine lean actually increases emissions.

    •  Higher efficiency in new models (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The 2014-2018 heavy truck models are covered (for the first time) by fuel efficiency standards roughly comparable to CAFE (for light vehicles).

      This actually works better than CAFE since half of miles driven by heavy trucks are driven by the last 3 model years.  However 2014-2015 are voluntary compliance years to allow for lead time requirements.

      The President's announcement covers the second round of this, for which efficiency requirements will be released in 2016.

      How the mfg's are complying:

      The linked announcement also touts the voluntary adoption of aerodynamic retrofits by private 'partners' including some major carriers.

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 04:25:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here in the East Bay, Port of Oakland (HUGE port (7+ / 0-)

    with lots of diesel pollution) really needs cleaner vehicles- but no-one is putting up any money to help independent truckers (the VAST majority) upgrade their rigs. Compounding this is an insane system that requires truckers to stay in line for hours, idling and polluting, waiting their turn to drive in and pull out a load. Most can only take two loads a day because of this. What they need is a system like a hiring hall, with pagers issued so they can just park, wait for a page, and drive in for their load. This is known, but the POO (Port of Oakland) wants to keep them lean and underpaid.

  •  Less than meets the eye. Jevons Paradox. (0+ / 0-)

    This is the typical half measure we get from modern Democrats. It grabs headlines so they can be seen as "doing something," but delivers less than what's really needed--which, in this case, is a price on carbon (and other greenhouse emissions).

    The Jevons Paradox:

    as technology progresses, the increase in efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.[1] In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal use led to increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to common intuition, technological improvements could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption.
    More fuel-efficient trucks will mean:

    * Less reliance on rail, which is WAY less carbon-intensive.

    * Less rethinking of production & supply chain to minimize schlepping around of materials.

    * Postponing investment in hybrid or battery-electric trucks. (Check that Wrightspeed link posted by SCFrog.)

    * Thus continued reliance on oil (think Keystone XL) and natural gas (fracking) instead of conversion to grid power. Which, with a price on carbon, would be increasingly nuclear & renewable.


    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 01:37:17 PM PST

    •  Oh, and... (0+ / 0-)

      A price on carbon would produce--ta-dahhh--federal revenues. Lessing pressure on food stamps, Social Security, infrastructure jobs, etc.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 01:39:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As you are aware ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey, benamery21, BYw

      I support a price on carbon, a (much) more serious addressing of climate issues, electrification of rail (Steel Interstate), etc ...

      With that in mind ...

      1.  While Jevon's Paradox is 'real', I also believe it can be exaggerated.  Also, taking that argument too far suggests 'lets be as inefficient as possible so we burn up the stuff faster and hit crisis quicker ...'

      2.  This is a step that can marry up with other things -- there are fascinating developments in 'green diesel' that will greatly reduce (even eliminate) diesel's carbon footprint. If we lower the demand requirement while increasing the clean fuel amount, we can really drive down the carbon footprint of large truck transport.

      3.  This is far from 'perfect' but I see more good than bad. Also, key point of my post is that the Administration -- yet again -- is understating the benefits of climate action.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 02:28:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great news but we're still producing & Exporting (0+ / 0-)

    or has this changed:

    From CFR The Case for Allowing U.S. Crude Oil Exports

    the United States has become one of the world's largest gross exporters of refined oil products, such as gasoline and diesel. Unlike crude oil, which is unprocessed, oil that has been refined can be exported freely under U.S. law. Roughly three million barrels per day of refined oil products were exported in December 2012, a major increase from prior decades.
    So while we are increasing efficiency here in the US we are increasing production for exportation thereby contributing to pollution elsewhere? Plus  does the energy and costs spent in exportation negative the positive impacts of this win-win-win?

    I don't know the answer here, btw. Just wondering if anyone does.

    RIP Nelson Mandela

    by boatsie on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 04:54:22 PM PST

  •  I'm going to respectfully disagree and say he's (0+ / 0-)

    full of shit. Master of making it sound like he gets it and is on the job when he doesn't actually give a shit.

    Ultimately we need to convert most transportation (ground) to electric. Trucks will have to stay "hybrid" for a lot of technical reasons, but can be hybridized better than say a locomotive can be.

    To give a speech about improving GAS MILEAGE is to abrogate the push to NO MORE GAS at all, ultimately.

    Cleaning and CO2 sequestering Coal Electric power plants needs to be NUMBER ONE on the list, as they will make the electricity that powers the conversion of transportation to electric. Making the industry act and implement has to happen as soon as possible, it is the place we can make the biggest impact to lower CO2 output with the least economic disturbance.

    Moving cars to electric comes next.... but the LOCAL electric supply grid needs to be brought up to snuff to even support home charging of electrics.... otherwise, a battery swap standard infrastructure and commercial charging would be required .... not that we shouldn't do that anyway.

    I just find the Obama truck speech cover for XL pipeline bad press and a play to placate the climate and green supporters who are losing patience with 5 years of inaction from the guy who swore he'd be action man.

    •  Couple things ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Jester

      1. Perhaps.  You have seen enough of my work, I believe, to know that I am not a blind cheerleader.  Even so, I think it makes sense to give credit on sensible policies.  This is not the only thing happening in the Administration re efficiency, clean energy, climate ... if it were, then my thinking would be more aligned with your comment.    

      2.  I disagree about your coal plant comment(s).  Much better to marry increased electrification of transportation with renewable penetration.  V2G means that the vehicle batteries become a key player in the storage of excess production to help flatten out the demand/supply curves and enable dealing with intermittency issues.  

      3.  Re the coal, CO2 sequestering does not marry up with "least economic disturbance" nor "the biggest impact to lower CO2 output" in terms of economic, technical, timing efficacy.  Coal electricity has nose-dived over past five years -- primarily due to natural gas prices but substantially due to wind (and, lesser, solar) penetration.  

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 08:05:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I never doubt YOU, Obama ... not so much ;) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        On 1: I fear he uses days like that to propagandize his own administration as getting things done, when all the while they really just play lip service while Rome burns.

        Like dealing with a 2 yr old, we must be both congratulatory and keep the pressure on to do better when the effort was honestly mediocre.

        I especially get very angry when hearing Administration morons yapping about Natural Gas as an alternative, as a "clean" alternative i reference to Climate Change .... allowing them to justify frakking and their support for it as an environmentally and climatologically "good thing".

        Never mind basic chemistry and physics and the fact X CH4 contains the same energy as Y gasoline and to drive 50 miles will release the exact same amount of CO2 to accomplish the same amount of work. It is playing on the average American's ignorance of science in a very callous manner. I want to punch the person making the statement every time I hear it.

        On 2: I should always note that in any context I ASSUME we are all moving to renewable's as fast as humanly possible. As Germany shows, yes it can quickly add up to really mattering. But on Coal I see the power we need, plus the power we need in the future from converting transport to electric as such a volume I really think we can't let Coal "ride" while we shift to renewable's. The industry can in parallel with renewable implementation, be truly CLEANING itself.

        Long term, for hundreds of years into the future, the Coal deposits represent an enormous amount of energy that to me seems foolish to just leave buried, however, we must mine/burn it without harming the environment. So I want a parallel serious effort to make mining/burning it safe and clean.

        For oil, we use and DEPEND on it for so much more, many far more important to our society long term, that merely burning it is insane. Again, long term into the hundreds of years, we need oil for things that do not involve burning it, burning it is obscene in the big picture.

        The breakthroughs on eventually synthesizing Oil on commercial scales, eliminating the need to drill for oil ever again, look hopeful. Aircraft will need "oil" for a long time to come, so we can't eliminate all burning of oil.

        On 3: Again, burning CH4 instead of Coal was no solution to anything. For the same amount of net usable energy output, the same amount of CO2 was released. The Atmosphere doesn't care what burned, only that CO2 concentration is rising. Given the more important uses of CH4, to me it is a sin to be burning it in place of coal. You can't run coal through pipes to homes for heat/cooking. But regardless of what the electric plant is burning to generate energy, the CO2 output MUST BE REDUCED TO ZERO. So let me alter my statement to  ALL non-nuclear electric power plants need to be altered to sequester 100% of their output as a parallel effort along with all other efforts .... renewables, algae oil, better nuclear, fusion, solar, wind, tide, geothermal, etc, etc.

        This whole effort needs the panic'd crisis attitude that it deserves, as the planet's atmosphere is heading for a potential positive feedback loop of heating that we won't be able to stop and that WILL KILL most life on earth.

        As an insurance policy, we need to begin building underwater cities that divorce the human population from earth's atmosphere and surface, deep enough to withstand Fireball Earth or Snowball Earth, which ever way it moves, and save our species. It would be nice to save most of the others for reintroduction to the surface/ocean when Earth re-establishes a livable equilibrium in centuries/millennium to come.

        Yeah, it may have already gotten THAT BAD and we just don't realize it yet. Since we haven't conquered space travel and colonized other worlds yet, we better plan on surviving on this one come real disaster .... win win (Mr President) is that we'd be better equipped as a species to survive an asteroid strike as well.

        •  Hmmm ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Jester

          Lots to digest / react to.

          1.  I've long believed that we can accommodate EV while eliminating coal.  See here for an overview.

          2.  I hate the discussion of "natural gas" vehicles (hate "clean natural gas" signs on busses), see the climate implications as 'gangplank to disaster' rather than bridge to future), and see the economics as horrific.

          3.  Hmmm ... undersea ... I've thought less aggressively, in terms of power of vertical farming with renewable energy to provide resiliency against weather disruption to agricultural systems.

          And ... so, have you written up in a diary the thoughts in comments above?

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 11:52:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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