Canada’s truckers – including drivers of full-size pickups – are facing rising vehicle costs as Ottawa joins with the United States in imposing new greenhouse gas emissions standards starting in 2014 model years.
But, according to a report in the Globe and Mail, the higher upfront costs should be recouped in a few years of operating the vehicles as trucks become more fuel efficient and reduce their consumption of high-priced diesel.
The new regulations – developed in concert with the U.S. – will target a range of heavy-duty trucks from one-ton pickups to the largest tractor-trailers. The two governments have already set emission regulations for light-duty vehicles until 2016, and are expected to issue new rules for post-2016 models in the coming year.
Environment Minister Peter Kent recently unveiled draft regulations that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new heavy-duty trucks by as much as 23% by the 2018 model year, when the new rules are fully in place.
The minister said the industry will also benefit from lower operating costs at a time when diesel fuel prices are projected to remain higher, and likely climb further.
“These regulations would not just help us take action on climate change – they would also help the trucking industry become more competitive,” Kent said.
In an interview, Kent said it is not yet clear how much the draft regulations will add to the cost of specific vehicles. But he said operators should be able to quickly recoup their higher sticker price from lower operating costs, in as quickly as one year for the heavy mileage trucks.
In the draft regulations posted on the Canada Gazette, Environment Canada estimated total cost of the new rules to be $800-million between 2014 and 2018, while benefits would be $5-billion, primarily from fuel savings.
Officials at national parks across the U.S. are trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by cleaning up their own operations, with the help of federal stimulus dollars, according to Associated Press.
“We know we have to green our own house,” said Sonya Capek, the Pacific West region’s environmental program coordinator. “It’s part of our mission to protect and preserve the resources.”
The National Park Service and the Environmental Protection Agency have started the Climate Friendly Parks network program to help parks address climate change. Parks must measure their amounts of emissions, come up with plans to curb them and educate the public on what they can do to help.
Seventeen parks, including the Everglades in Florida and Fire Island National Seashore in New York, have already created plans. Sixty parks are developing their own plans.
National parks, like other federal agencies, have already been under orders to reduce energy and gasoline use. But the Obama administration has pushed greening parts of government further, including replacing government fleets with more fuel-efficient cars and trucks.
Parks are turning down thermostats and sealing windows, providing loaner bikes to employees and installing food composting and recycling bins.
One recent morning at Mount Rainier, workers climbed atop the park’s emergency operations center and installed 48 solar panels to provide energy to the building. They have also added dual-flush toilets that reduce water use and use electric vehicles to pick up trash at campgrounds.
“The goal is really to knock (down) our carbon footprint,” said Jim Fuller, the park’s energy coordinator.
Each year, Mount Rainier creates greenhouse gas emissions equal to about 1,100 households. Visitors to Mount Rainier account for two-thirds of the 12,170 metric tons the park emits each year, mostly in driving to the park and inside it.
Federal stimulus dollars are giving national parks a boost in their efforts. Of $750 million for national parks, there’s stimulus money for energy-efficient windows at Alabama’s Russell Cave, wind turbines at Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic and solar panels at Georgia’s Cumberland Island.
Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park may soon hop on hydrogen-powered shuttles, while those visiting parts of Golden Gate National Recreation Area will find mostly organic food grown within 30 miles rather than shipped from across the country. Rocky Mountain National Park runs shuttles so backpackers don’t have to drive to trailheads. Other parks such as Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are asking visitors to do their part with tours, education programs and public awareness campaigns.
“We’re basically trying, without hitting people over the head, to say this is an issue,” said Bob Krumenaker, Apostle Islands’ superintendent.
Rainier acting superintendent Randy King said the park doesn’t want to discourage visitors. “It’s very important that people enjoy the parks and make a personal connection.” So the park is looking in-house first to conserve where it can.
“We need to set a good example and do what we can,” he said.
Roger Scott, from Southfield, Mich., said he’s noticed solar panels at several national parks he visited since retiring last year.
“Parks get used an awful lot and they’re going to get used even more,” he said, adding that now is a good time to start thinking about human impact to the parks.
It’s unclear whether parks can realistically become carbon neutral through conservation alone or without buying offsets, but park officials say the expectation for now is get as close as possible.
“It’s OK to have a difficult goal,” King said. “It’s important that we take it seriously.”