OOIDA to truckers: Share past problems with EPA

January 24, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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While the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association doesn’t support the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for a Cleaner Trucks Initiative, the Association said it is important for truck drivers to file comments and help shape any future regulations.

The EPA’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking, which aims to create the framework for “new emissions standards for oxides of nitrogen and other pollutants for highway heavy-duty engines, published in the Federal Register on Jan. 21. Comments must be received on or before Feb. 20.

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. Specifically, OOIDA hopes to convince the EPA to avoid repeating the mistakes of past emissions-reduction initiatives that led to unreliable trucks hitting the market.

“I had a 2012 truck and had all kinds of problems. I had a sheet of repairs a mile long, it seemed like,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh said in a recent video. “I understand the expense. I understand the down time, and more than anything I understand your frustration. With that said, we’re not endorsing this … we’re waiting to see what happens. But the good thing is that we’ve been asked to come to the table. EPA Administrator (Andrew) Wheeler has asked to come, and they want to hear comments from industry.

“This is going to happen whether we fold our arms and say, ‘No,’ or if we make comments. So here’s our chance to hopefully make a difference … But if we don’t say anything, that won’t make a difference. Use your real-world scenarios … tell them what happened to you, explain the expenses, explain wrecker bills and all of the stuff that they don’t even think of.”

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

“We intend the Cleaner Trucks Initiative to be a holistic rethinking of emission standards and compliance,” the notice said.

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

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

“EPA is encouraging stakeholder input, specifically from commercial motor vehicle drivers, to update NOx emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles,” OOIDA wrote on its Fighting for Truckers website. “OOIDA encourages its members to provide feedback on the proposal including reliability, serviceability, and warranties.

For those who are not sure where to start, OOIDA provides a comment guide for more information about what issues and experiences to mention in your public comments. The comment guide includes examples of previous problems regarding reliability, warranties and serviceability.

“Did you experience failures with previous emissions technologies? Make sure EPA knows the problems you’ve encountered and the impact they had on your business,” OOIDA wrote. “If EPA is going to avoid the mistakes of the past, they need to know exactly what impact new requirements may have on truckers.”

Comments may be made here or by going to the Regulations.gov website and entering docket number EPA-HQ-OAR-2019-0055.

“Go on there, and fire off your comments,” Pugh said. “This is your chance to tell them how you feel. Be professional as always, but don’t hold back. Tell them what happened.”

 

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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.