Big trucks are cool. And important. They move 70 percent of U.S. freight. But if you drive behind one, you know that big trucks pollute. In a typical year, the U.S. truck fleet emits as much carbon dioxide as 130 coal-fired electricity plants.

That’s why new fuel-economy and greenhouse-gas standards finalized August 16 by the Obama administration are so important.

The rules promise to:

  • Prevent 1.1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Save 2 billion barrels of oil.
  • Cut fuel bills by $170 billion through 2027.

Those eye-popping numbers help explain why many truck makers, truck fleets and environmentalists support today’s efficiency standards.

President Obama inspects a new fuel-efficient truck. (© AP Images)

The U.S. government says the new rules will spark development of more efficient engines. That won’t be cheap, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes the transport industry will recoup its costs in two to four years.

And EPA can point to companies like soft drink maker PepsiCo Inc., which reduced its diesel fuel usage by nearly a quarter between 2008 and 2014.

As the CEO of a leading diesel engine maker had said to the Wall Street Journal, the rules “will help our industry grow in a more sustainable way, which is a win for our customers and a win for the environment.”