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Trucking Plays Key Role, Experts Say

Freight transportation plays a critical role in the economy, energy security and environment of the U.S., according to experts at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) U.S. Freight Sustainability Summit in Washington, DC.

Drawing on a broad range of expertise, the conference was co-hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) and the Retail Industry Leaders Assn. (RILA).

Conference speakers presented best practices, operational strategies, new technologies and other innovations aimed at helping integrate sustainability into transportation management and business practices.

Lindsay Chason, senior manager for environmental innovation at Home Depot, in her remarks at the Summit promoted passage of the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA), S. 747/ H.R. 763. She said SETA would modernize federal truck weight limits by giving states the option to grant interstate access to heavier trucks equipped with “safer six axles instead of the typical five.” Home Depot, noted Chason, is a member of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), a group of 200 shippers and allied associations “dedicated to responsibly increasing federal vehicle weight limits on interstate highways.”

“Transportation accounts for about 50% of Home Depot’s carbon footprint,” said Chason. “For Home Depot and other companies, SETA represents an opportunity to safely boost our environmental sustainability and productivity. The six-axle trucks SETA allows are more efficient because they can safely haul more goods, reducing the truckloads, vehicle miles and fuel associated with each ton of freight.

“SETA will safely increase supply chain efficiency, helping Home Depot meet our sustainability goals and reduce cost for our company and consumers,” she continued. “SETA is simply a win-win for the environment, highway safety and business. Please join us in encouraging Congress to include SETA in the Highway Reauthorization legislation. Supporting smart transportation policy is the right thing to do.”

While the first day of the event zeroed in on how leading trucking and logistics firms, retailers, manufacturers, ports and non-governmental organizations are successfully integrating sustainability practices into their transportation and business operations, the second day featured an EPA SmartWay workshop.

The workshop demonstrated how the program’s public-private collaboration can help industry and the country save fuel and enhance the economy through new technologies and innovative strategies, tools and methods for carbon accounting and performance benchmarking.

The SmartWay voluntary initiative was lauded by EDF president Fred Krupp as “a critical program that shippers can leverage to increase their freight efficiency.” Krupp said he believes in “rolling up our sleeves to partner with business and civic leaders, finding ways to achieve real environmental improvements and grow a cleaner energy economy while saving money, creating jobs and improving public health. There's no better win-win-win solution.”

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