EPA’s GHG Reduction Scenarios for Transport Sector

Environmental Protection Agency
says various reduction scenarios could result in vehicle emission reductions of up 27 percent through 2030, which explains their recent actions on greenhouse gas regulations in the transport sector and general GHG reporting requirements for all companies.

EPA also says that implementation of those scenarios could reduce the transportation sector’s cumulative oil consumption by as much 28 percent by that date.

The agency released a 56-page report, EPA Analysis of the Transportation Sector: Greenhouse Gas and Oil Reduction Scenarios, which looks at some possible pathways to achieve GHG reductions and oil savings in the context of current regulatory and pending legislative initiatives.The report was done at the request of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA), a principle author of Senate climate change legislation. In September, he asked the EPA to follow up its previous work and look deeper into the “greenhouse gas emission reductions and oil savings that could be achieved from a variety of transportation policies, including more aggressive fuel economy standards and policies to address vehicle miles traveled.”

The resulting document from EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality this month says the reductions presented “represent those that could be brought about by a mix of existing authority as well as new legislative authority and funding.” The agency adds that its analysis “makes no distinction” between the various pathways, “nor does it reflect a regulatory plan or budget proposal.”

EPA says it interpreted Kerry’s request “as asking what additional emission reductions could be achieved directly from the transportation sector if effective transportation-specific drivers were in place.”
The report addresses two possible scenarios — A and B — for each transportation subsector by 2030, with each scenario varying on the aggressiveness and pace of GHG and oil consumption reductions. In general Scenario B is the most aggressive approach.

The scenarios cover transportation fuels and electrification of transportation; light duty vehicles, which include passenger and small commercial vehicles; medium and heavy duty trucks; aviation; rail; marine; and off-highway, a category that encompasses agricultural, construction and mining equipment.

After more than 50 pages of charts, graphs and tables addressing each of those transportation subsectors in detail, EPA concluded there would be a 19-27 percent reduction in cumulative transportation emissions through 2030, or a savings of 8,200-12,000 million metric tons of GHGs. The same models would also save 21-31 million barrels of oil over that span for a 19-28 percent reduction in cumulative oil consumption.

Was it worth the exercise? In the end, the analysis seems somewhat limited and even tame in scope, and perhaps not as aggressive as it might be because it does not consider the policy or market choices needed to generate the GHG outcomes it models, which EPA calls “a valuable but complex analysis.” Nor does it get into cost estimates or the relative merits and impacts of the various approaches.

Maybe it has to be this way given the complexity of the subject, differing interpretations of the data, the time constraints involved and the delicate legislative maneuvering ahead.

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