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Trucking associations push back on EPA’s GHG Phase 3 emissions timelines – Truck News

The U.S. EPA issued on the eve of Easter weekend, its Phase 3 greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, covering model years 2027 to 2032 vehicles.

The standards, EPA says, will see CO2 emissions slashed by 25% by 2032 for sleeper cab tractors, right up to a 60% reduction for light-heavy vocational trucks. Notably, 25% of all trucks will have to be electric by 2032, according to the regulations.

Truck charging
(Photo: Penske)

“In finalizing these emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles like trucks and buses, EPA is significantly cutting pollution from the hardest working vehicles on the road,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a release. “Building on our recently finalized rule for light- and medium-duty vehicles, EPA’s strong and durable vehicle standards respond to the urgency of the climate crisis by making deep cuts in emissions from the transportation sector.”

EPA says the final rule will result in greater reductions of pollution than the proposed rule, while also giving OEMs more flexibility and time to develop the required technologies. It expects the standard to remove 1 billion tons of GHG emissions, equal to 13 million tanker trucks full of gasoline.

“EPA’s standards complement President Biden’s unprecedented investment in our workers and communities to reduce harmful emissions, while strengthening our manufacturing capacity for the transportation technologies of the future,” said President Biden’s National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi. “By tackling pollution from heavy-duty vehicles, we can unlock extraordinary public health, climate, and economic gains.”

More than 175,000 public comments were considered in finalizing the rule, EPA said. It also said the heavy-duty industry will save $3.5 billion (all figures U.S.) against annual costs of $1.1 billion from 2027 to 2055. A buyer of a sleeper cab will recoup the up-front investment in five years, EPA contended. It also says when the rules are fully phased in, a truck operator will save between US$3,700 and $10,500 on fuel and maintenance costs annually, depending on truck type.

Mixed reaction

Reaction from the industry was mixed. “We thank the agency for addressing industry concern about the challenges of the early years of the rule and we remain committed to upholding the spirit of this regulation,” said Sean Waters, vice-president, product integrity with Daimler Truck North America.

“At Daimler Truck North America, it is our aspiration to offer only carbon-neutral new vehicles in the U.S. by 2039 and our comprehensive product portfolio of state-of-the-art trucks will ensure our customers can transition to greener transportation on the road ahead. Ultimately, the successful transition of the commercial vehicle industry is dependent on the availability of reliable zero emission charging and refueling infrastructure and the ability to conduct business at a reasonable cost of ownership. We appreciate the regulation’s recognition of this fact and look forward to working with the EPA as well as federal and state governments to deliver both.”

Not everyone was as enthusiastic. Jim Mullen, executive director of the Clean Freight Coalition, had this to say: “The members of the Clean Freight Coalition have a long history of collaborating with federal regulators on sound regulations that support environmental improvements at the right speed. However, our members oppose the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations for Heavy-Duty Vehicles-Phase 3 rule – a regulation that will require the adoption of zero-emissions commercial vehicles at a pace that isn’t possible due to the limits of today’s technology.”

Associations oppose plan

He pointed out a diesel Class 8 truck today costs about $180,000, while an electric truck costs about $400,000. Truckload Carriers Association president Jim Ward added to the concern.

“The industry has effectively reduced NOx and particulate matters through the evolution and implementation of new technologies and remains committed to being a good steward of the environment,” Ward said in a statement. “The journey ahead provides for many alternatives to be considered to lower carbon such as blended biodiesel, renewable natural gas, diesel-electric, just to name a few to help us bridge the gap to the future. We cannot just sit idly by and watch the implementation of a policy that will have a significant impact on our members business.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) also took issue with the regs, especially the ambitious target for electric vehicles.

“Small business truckers, who happen to care about clean air for themselves and their kids as much as anyone, make up 96% of trucking. Yet this administration seems dead set on regulating every local mom and pop business out of existence with its flurry of unworkable environmental mandates,” said OOIDA president Todd Spencer. “This administration appears more focused on placating extreme environmental activists who have never been inside a truck than the small business truckers who ensure that Americans have food in their grocery stores and clothes on their backs. If you bought it, a trucker brought it.”

And the American Trucking Associations (ATA) also spoke out against the standards.

“ATA opposes this rule in its current form because the post-2030 targets remain entirely unachievable given the current state of zero-emission technology, the lack of charging infrastructure and restrictions on the power grid,” said ATA president and CEO Chris Spear. “Given the wide range of operations required of our industry to keep the economy running, a successful emission regulation must be technology neutral and cannot be one-size-fits-all. Any regulation that fails to account for the operational realities of trucking will set the industry and America’s supply chain up for failure.”

“The trucking industry is fully committed to the road to zero emissions, but the path to get there must be paved with commonsense,” Spear added. “While we are disappointed with today’s rule, we will continue to work with EPA to address its shortcomings and advance emission-reduction targets and timelines that are both realistic and durable.”


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