Senators urge EPA to move quickly on strict truck emission standards

November 30, 2023

Tyson Fisher

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Two senators are putting pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize a rule that will establish stricter truck emission standards.

On Wednesday, Nov. 29, Sens. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., held a press conference to voice their support for the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3 The senators want the rule finalized by early 2024.

“EPA has ample authority here, and I echo (Padilla’s) call to the EPA administrator to do this strong and do this quick,” Whitehouse said during the press conference. “We don’t want it to lurk over into congressional review act territory.”

The proposed rule has received mix reactions. While many lawmakers and stakeholders have voiced support for the rule, many others are worried that the EPA is moving too fast.

Truck emission standards Phase 3

In April, the EPA issued a proposed rule that will set the strictest truck emission standards at the federal level.

The EPA’s proposed truck emission standards would require a quarter of new heavy trucks sold in the U.S. to be all-electric by 2032.

The upfront cost difference between an electric truck and an internal combustion engine truck is $582 for a short-haul daycab tractor. However, that price difference skyrockets to $14,712 for long-haul sleeper cab tractors.

The EPA is proposing stronger carbon dioxide standards for model year 2027 heavy-duty vehicles that go beyond the current emission standards that apply under the HD Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas program. It also is proposing an additional set of carbon dioxide standards for heavy-duty vehicles that would begin to apply in model year 2028, with progressively lower standards each model year through 2032.

Support for Phase 3

The EPA’s Phase 3 for truck emission standards has garnered support from federal lawmakers and heavy-duty vehicle industry stakeholders.

In September, 80 federal lawmakers signed off on a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan urging the agency to finalize and issue strong vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards for both cars and trucks by the end of the year.

Although the letter was bicameral, it was not bipartisan. All signees were Democrats.

Prior to the EPA publishing the final rule in April, Padilla and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., along with 56 other federal lawmakers issued a letter to Regan urging the administration to “swiftly issue” proposed rules governing clean car and truck emission standards. In the letter, the lawmakers wanted the EPA to finalize those rules before the end of the year.

A push for stricter truck emission standards also has gained the support of heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers. In July, leading truck manufacturers reached a Clean Truck Partnership with the California Air Resources Board, committing themselves to reach California’s zero-emission truck standards.

The Clean Truck Partnership includes Cummins, Daimler Truck North America, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Hino Motors Limited, Isuzu Technical Center of America, Navistar, Paccar, Stellantis N.V., Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association and Volvo Group North America.

Those entities are committing to meet California’s vehicle standards that require the sale and adoption of zero-emission technology in the state. This commitment is regardless of any challenges to California’s authority to set more stringent emission standards under the federal Clean Air Act.

Criticism of Phase 3

Although Padilla and other Democratic federal lawmakers are trying to expedite the final rule, other Congress members and stakeholders are worried that the process is being rushed.

In July, more than 30 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle expressed concerns over EPA’s Phase 3 of truck emission standards. In a letter to Regan, the coalition of lawmakers pointed out that the proposed rule is being rushed.

“EPA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking with a comment period of only 50 days and has denied requests for extension,” the letter states. “By comparison, EPA took five years to finalize the Phase 2 GHG rule. There is much at stake for the truck industry, its employees and the economy, and the EPA should take the time needed to carefully consider the concerns raised during the rulemaking.”

The letter also brought up concerns regarding the steep price of electric vehicles as well as the lack of a charging infrastructure.

Shortly after the proposed rule was published, several stakeholders voiced similar concerns. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association called the rulemaking “hurried” and also pointed out the lack of a national charging infrastructure.

OOIDA President Todd Spencer issued the following statement:

“The Biden-Harris EPA is continuing their regulatory blitz on small-business truckers. The latest proposal comes on the heels of a hurried nitrogen oxide emissions rulemaking finalized in December along with a California waiver mandating sales of electric trucks. Today’s announcement is a blatant attempt to force consumers into purchasing electric vehicles while a national charging infrastructure network remains absent for heavy-duty commercial trucks. Professional drivers are skeptical of (electric vehicle) costs, mileage range, battery weight and safety, charging time and availability. It’s baffling that the EPA is pushing forward with more impractical emissions timelines without first addressing these overwhelming concerns with electric (commercial motor vehicles). The pursuit of this radical environmental agenda in conjunction with an anticipated speed limiter mandate will regulate the safest and most experienced truckers off the road.”

 

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, whose members include the biggest auto manufacturers in the world, has suggested the Biden administration is moving too fast with its proposed emission standards.

“Remember this: a lot has to go right for this massive – and unprecedented – change in our automotive market and industrial base to succeed, especially as 284 million light-duty vehicles across the country (that average 12 years in age) remain on the roads,” Alliance for Automotive Innovation President John Bozzella said in a statement. “As of last year, (electric vehicles) accounted for just over 1% of all light-duty vehicles.” LL

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