Transportation companies anticipating impact of Obama's climate plan

Those in the transportation industry are well aware of the controversy surrounding climate change and have implemented various measures to limit emissions and preserve the environment. While some companies have invested in hybrid fleet vehicles, others have implemented route planning software that limits the number of miles driven and reduces fuel consumption. But businesses may notice additional changes in the future, especially if President Barack Obama's new plan to curb the effects of climate change takes hold.

Reducing coal shipments and routes
One of the main objectives of this strategy is to limit the harmful emissions released by burning coal. The Obama administration plans to have the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) create federal limits on coal plant emissions, the first such regulations in the nation. According to The Associated Press (AP), power plants are responsible for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., and to lower the level of pollution they release, utility providers will need to run coal plants less frequently or shut down facilities that end up being too expensive to keep open.

The plan means fewer new coal plants will be constructed and current coal plants may look to other resources that can help operations limit emissions while still producing the same amount of power. As such, the companies responsible for hauling coal may soon find themselves making fewer pickups and deliveries as facilities try to make their processes more eco-friendly. Opponents of the plan have called the plan a "war on coal" and slammed the president's proposal, while some environmental advocates claim the initiative doesn't go far enough.

Experts predict power plants will slowly shift to using natural gas to run their facilities, as this resource emits fewer pollutants and is widely available within the U.S. With fewer companies demanding coal shipments, drivers would need to take the most direct route to optimize their runs and help cut costs wherever possible. Those supplying natural gas, however, may see a spike in requests for pickups and delivery services.

Plan calls for increased energy efficiency
While a drop in coal shipments could hit some businesses in the transportation industry significantly, other initiatives could have an impact on fleets that aren't at all involved in the delivery of natural resources like coal. The Obama plan calls for increased energy efficiency across the country and for industries - and consumers - to waste fewer resources.

Aside from announcing goals to make appliances more energy efficient and get businesses to invest in improvements that would limit their resource use, Obama also detailed plans to increase fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks. This plan could have significant repercussions for the transportation industry, especially if fleets are required to replace older models with more fuel-efficient vehicles. To alleviate the costs of purchasing new trucks, many companies may find it beneficial to invest in route optimization software that can offset fuel costs and save more in the long run.