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March 17, 2021, 2:26 p.m. EDT

‘Immediate environmental benefits’: FedEx chief tells Congress longer trailers would help climate

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Robert Schroeder

The head of FedEx Corp. on Wednesday told Congress he sees a quick way for the transportation sector to help the environment: longer trailers.

Testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, FedEx Chief Executive Frederick Smith told lawmakers that federal equipment standards for twin 28-foot trailers haven’t changed since 1982.

Also read: FedEx to invest $2 billion to be carbon neutral by 2040

“We must continue to advocate for common sense, environmentally friendly solutions to maximize trucking efficiency and increase environmental gains,” Smith said in testimony . “One such common sense approach with immediate environmental benefits would be a modest 5-foot increase to twin 28’ trailers — not an increase to the weight limits,” he said.

The FedEx /zigman2/quotes/203047719/composite FDX +0.34% CEO said the increased capacity could cut fuel use by 225 million gallons a year and reduce carbon emissions by 3 million tons per year. Responding to a question from Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, Smith said the longer trailers are safer than the shorter ones since they’re more stable and reduce the number of trucks on the road.    

Smith was one of several executives testifying at the House hearing, titled “The Business Case for Climate Solutions.”

The committee, headed by Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio, is one of the key panels involved in crafting infrastructure legislation, a priority of President Joe Biden’s. There is bipartisan interest in improving U.S. roads, bridges and other infrastructure /zigman2/quotes/200238288/composite PAVE +0.70% , but little agreement on how to pay for it. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted that no Republicans would back tax increases to pay for infrastructure improvements. 

Also see: McConnell warns of tax hikes in a ‘Trojan horse’ infrastructure bill

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