Cleaner Trucks Initiative needs input from truckers

February 2020

Mark Schremmer

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Before the Environmental Protection Agency moves forward with a rulemaking for its Cleaner Trucks Initiative, the agency wants input from members of the trucking industry.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Jan. 6, announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at creating the framework for “new emission standards for oxides of nitrogen and other pollutants for highway heavy-duty engines.” The notice also describes “opportunities to streamline and improve certification procedures to reduce costs for engine manufacturers.”

“The EPA is seeking input on this effort from the public, including all interested stakeholders, to inform the development of a subsequent notice of proposed rulemaking,” the notice said.

In November 2018, the EPA announced plans to start the Cleaner Trucks Initiative as a way to update standards for NOx emissions from heavy-duty vehicles.

“Although NOx emissions in the U.S. have dropped by more than 40% over the past decade, we project that heavy-duty vehicles continue to be one of the largest contributors to the mobile source NOx inventory in 2028,” the notice said.

Shaping the proposal

The EPA said it has assembled a team to gather scientific and technical data needed to inform the agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking.

EPA said it plans to develop its proposal based on the following principles:

  • Our goal should be to reduce in-use emissions under a broad range of operating conditions.
  • We should consider and enable effective technological solutions while carefully considering the cost impacts.
  • Our compliance and enforcement provisions should be fair and effective.
  • Our regulations should incentivize early compliance and innovation.
  • We should ensure a coordinated 50-state program.
  • We should actively engage with interested stakeholders.

OOIDA has been involved in the process to ensure that the voice of small-business truckers is heard before the EPA makes a formal proposal.

“We think the conversations we’ve had with EPA over this issue have been very productive,” said Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of government affairs. “Unlike any other administration, this one has really gone to great lengths to understand the unique challenges of small-business operators and owner-operators. We think that will produce, hopefully, a regulation that our members can certainly get behind. Previous emissions regulations have been very hard on our members, specifically a lot of challenges with serviceability of equipment and reliability of equipment. We think the conversations we’re currently having with EPA and hope to continue having with EPA will end with a regulation that our members will find very suitable.”

Considerations

EPA said effectiveness and cost will be taken under consideration when deliberating the addition of a new technology in the proposal.

“From a regulatory perspective, EPA’s evaluation of the effectiveness of technologies includes their emission reduction potential, as well as their durability over the engine’s regulatory useful life and potential impact on CO2 emissions,” the EPA notice said. “The costs associated with the technologies in our demonstration program will also be considered, along with other relevant factors, in the overall feasibility analysis presented in the notice of proposed rulemaking.”

When the Cleaner Trucks Initiative was first announced in November 2018, OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh cautioned the EPA that owner-operators shouldn’t be used as “guinea pigs” for new technology and get priced out of the business.

“We are hopeful that the agency understands we bring a unique perspective to the discussion and that the policy makers will embrace the concerns of the owner-operator as they explore updated NOx standards,” Pugh said in 2018. “Clean air is a priority for everyone, but the technology used in heavy-duty trucks to accomplish this has to be affordable and reliable.”

How to comment

As of press time in early January, the advance notice of proposed rulemaking was still waiting to be published in the Federal Register. After that happens, comments will be accepted for 30 days. Comments may be made at the regulations.gov website by entering docket number EPA-HQ-OAR-2019-0055. LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.