A coalition of motor sports groups has been pushed together with the manufacturers of semi-truck trailers in an effort to upend the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest round of greenhouse gas emission standards for heavy-duty trucks.
The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association and the Racing Enthusiasts Suppliers Coalition each filed separate federal appeals court petitions seeking to exempt their industries from the new regulation, which was enacted by the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year.
The organizations believe the broad directives, known as the GHG Phase 2 rule, instruct manufacturers to reduce carbon emissions from a wide range of commercial trucks, buses and cargo vans in three phases by 2027. The regulations were published in the Federal Register on Oct. 25.
Their petitions were consolidated into one case by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in January. Their arguments will be heard by a panel of three judges. A hearing date has not yet been set.
Little is known about the Racing Enthusiasts and Suppliers Coalition.
While the organization’s attorney sent Trucks.com a copy of its petition for reconsideration with the appeals court, the filing fails to include the names of its members or supporters. Shannon S. Broome, the attorney, did not return phone calls or emails seeking more information.
In July 2015, the EPA introduced a proposal that would have prohibited the conversion of street vehicles into race cars used exclusively for the track, but later the agency formally withdrew its proposal.
Although the EPA opted to remove the controversial provision in the final action, the agency “maintained that long-standing activities of hobbyists and those who supply them parts to use [in] automobiles for any reason is subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions,” the Racing Enthusiasts and Suppliers Coalition petition said.
The petition states the Clean Air Act defines motor vehicle “as any self-propelled vehicle designed for transporting persons or property on a street or highway. Since off-road racing/competition vehicles ought not and generally are not driven on streets or highways, they have long been considered to fall outside of the Clean Air Act anti-tampering provisions.”
“However, it appears that the average hobbyist, professional racers (many of whose cars began life as road-going cars) and suppliers of equipment that enable the conversion of road-going vehicles into race cars (cars used for competition only,) could be considered in violation of federal law,” the petition said.
Prior to filing its petition, the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association had no connection to the motor sports group.
“We filed and they filed, so the court just threw us together,” said Jeff Sims, president of the trailer manufacturers trade group. “I know nothing about them other than their name.”
Headquartered in Gainesville, Va., the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association wants regulations governing trailers removed from the Phase 2 rules, “because the EPA has overstepped its statutory authority because trailers produce no emissions,” Sims told Trucks.com.
Under the new rule, trailer manufacturers would have to abide by strict new design standards aimed at reducing emissions in four stages: 2018, 2021, 2024 and 2027.
“It’s very simple, if you read the definition of the Clean Air Act, trailers are not included, therefore, they do not have the statutory authority to regulate the trailer industry,” Sims said.
“If Congress had intended for EPA to regulate trailers, it would have included trailers in the definition of a motor vehicle when it enacted the Clean Air Act,” the trade group said in its petition.
The TTMA represents approximately 90 percent of the semi-truck trailers produced in the U.S.
Five environmental groups — including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Union of Concerned Scientist — are seeking to intervene in the case to support the federal rule.
The NRDC is concerned about “the large increase in pollution and increased dependence on oil if the standards are rolled back,” said Luke Tonachel, director of the environmental group’s clean vehicles and fuels project.
“These common-sense standards are broadly supported in the trucking industry and by businesses. Weakening them would hurt the environment, businesses and all of us consumers that buy goods shipped by trucks,” Tonachel said.
Eight states have also filed motions seeking to intervene in the case, including Connecticut, Washington, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Oregon, Iowa and California, through its state Air Resources Board.