Trucking fleets push back on EPA emissions standards

June 14, 2024 By    
EPA regulations pose threats to truck fleets. (Photo: LP Gas Staff)

EPA regulations pose threats to truck fleets. (Photo by LP Gas staff)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) electric vehicle and truck mandates are working their way through the system – but not without pushback.

On March 20, the EPA announced a final rule, known as “Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Lighter-Duty and Medium-Duty Vehicles.” The EPA established new standards that it says will diminish air pollutant emissions from light- and medium-duty vehicles, starting with model year 2027 offerings.

The EPA also announced another final rule on March 29, known as “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3.” To further improve the environment, the EPA says, it’s created more standards to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty (HD) vehicles, again beginning with model year 2027 offerings.

According to the EPA, the new standards will apply to several types of HD vehicles, including delivery trucks and school, shuttle and transit buses. It says the standards can be met with a diverse range of HD vehicle technologies, including advanced internal combustion engine vehicles, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Industry response

Industry leaders expressed their intention to fight back against the rulings.

“ATA [American Trucking Associations] 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,” Chris Spear, president and CEO of the ATA, says.

National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) President and CEO Steve Kaminski also commented on the mandates.

“We are pushing back vigorously on that, and a number of states are doing that too,” Kaminski says, noting how the NPGA is seeking a carveout for bobtails in federal legislation.

DD Alexander, president of propane supplier Global Gas, agrees with the trade association leaders, adding that the rulings’ financial consequences would be hard on commercial vehicle fleets.

“According to ATA, it would cost the trucking industry $620 billion to change to medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks,” she says. “It would also cost utility companies $360 billion to generate enough power to run these trucks.”

Full electrification of the U.S. commercial truck fleet would require a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure investment alone, according to a report from Roland Berger released by the Clean Freight Coalition.

“The trucking industry is fully committed to the road to zero emissions, but the path to get there must be paved with common sense,” Spear stresses. “We will continue to work with [the] EPA to advance emission-reduction targets and timelines that are realistic and durable.”

Realizing ‘operational realities’

In early May, Sens. Pete Ricketts, R-Neb., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Reps. John James, R-Mich., and Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, released a Congressional Review Act resolution regarding the final rules.

The resolution was released one day after Taki Darakos, an ATA member who serves as Pitt Ohio’s fleet manager, testified before Congress about the challenges truck fleets encounter – on a financial, operational and technological basis – while adopting battery-electric trucks.

“Senators Sullivan’s and Ricketts’ and Representatives Fulcher’s and James’ resolution highlights the need for [the] EPA to include the operational realities of trucking in their final regulation,” Ed Gilroy, chief advocacy and public affairs officer at ATA, says. “We appreciate them drawing attention to this important issue.”

Gilroy is determined to work alongside multiple parties to ensure future legislation will simultaneously impact the environment and the trucking industry.

“[I] look forward to continuing to work with Congress, coalition partners in [the] industry and federal regulators to develop realistic, technology-neutral national emissions standards that will benefit our environment and set our supply chain up for success,” he says.

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About the Author:

Julia was an intern at North Coast Media, LP Gas's parent company, during summer 2024 where she contributed as a writer. Julia studies Multimedia Journalism and Political Science at Loyola University Chicago.

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