After launching a review of strict fuel economy standards for light vehicles, the Trump administration may be turning its sights on a similar set of rules for heavy-duty trucks and large commercial vehicles.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to place a 90-day pause on a lawsuit challenging the stringent greenhouse gas emissions, or GHG, standards on heavy-duty trucks enacted by the Obama administration last year.
Last week, the agencies requested the stay – until July 20 – while they decide whether to modify or possibly rescind the new rules, known as the Phase 2 standards.
The Phase 2 rules require heavy-duty trucks to achieve a 9 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2027. Trailer manufacturers would have to abide by strict new aerodynamic design standards as well.
In March, President Donald Trump announced he would reopen a midterm review of the light-vehicle fuel economy regulations. The action was requested by the auto industry, which had warned about the technological challenges and expense of meeting regulations intended to push a test measure for the fuel economy of new cars to 54.5 mpg by 2025. The policy was a climate change initiative designed to reduce production of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
But there has not been an organized effort by trucking interests to reverse new emissions rules that will affect the industry.
However, the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, or TTMA, and the Racing Enthusiasts Suppliers Coalition each filed federal appeals court petitions seeking to exempt their industries from the new standards.
Their petitions were consolidated into one case by the District of Columbia appeals court in January.
The TTMA opposes the EPA’s motion for a 90-day pause without an accompanying stay or extension of the final rule’s implementation date of Jan. 1, 2018, because it “would unfairly burden their right to seek review of the final rule.”
The new GHG Phase 2 rules mandate installation of side skirts, trailer tails, low-rolling-resistance tires and tire pressure inflation/monitoring systems on nearly all trailers manufactured and sold in the U.S.
TTMA said in its court filing on Friday that purchase orders are typically placed six months in advance of actual manufacture so that production engineering can be completed for each order and necessary component parts can be obtained.
“These tasks cannot be delayed and then compressed into a three- to four-month period later this fall if the agencies are allowed a 90-day abeyance to consider whether to stay or reconsider the final rule and then decide to do neither,” TTMA said.
Headquartered in Gainesville, Va., TTMA wants regulations governing trailers removed from the Phase 2 rules, “because the EPA has overstepped its statutory authority because trailers produce no emissions,” Jeff Sims, president of the trailer manufacturers trade group, told Trucks.com earlier this year.
The Union of Concerned Scientists is one of five environmental groups intervening in the case to support the federal rule.
“This is an important issue as the improvements to trailers expected from the standards amount to more than 10 percent of the total benefits of the rule at less than 4 percent of the total costs,” Don Anair, research and deputy director of the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Trucks.com. “Existing policy in California has helped to drive this technology into the marketplace and reduce technology costs over the past several years, so there is no technical issue with the ability for trailer owners to comply with these fuel-saving and money-saving standards.”
The Racing Enthusiasts and Suppliers Coalition supports the 90-day stay.