Federal Appeals Court Grants 90-Day Pause on Heavy-Duty Truck Emissions Lawsuit

May 11, 2017 by Clarissa Hawes

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted a request by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to place a 90-day pause on a lawsuit challenging the stringent greenhouse gas emissions, or GHG, standards on heavy-duty trucks. o

Three circuit court judges on Monday granted the agencies’ motion to stay the consolidated challenges to the Phase 2 standards until July 20 to decide whether to modify or possibly rescind the new rules.

The court declined to consider the request filed by the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, or TTMA, which opposed EPA’s motion for a 90-day pause, stating its request to defer the deadlines of the challenged rule “does not address the stay factors.”

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 new standards were enacted by the Obama administration last year. 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.

TTMA opposed the 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 and the Racing Enthusiasts Suppliers Coalition filed separate federal appeals court petitions seeking to exempt their respective industries from the new standards. The petitions were consolidated into one case by the District of Columbia appeals court in January.

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.

In its court filing, TTMA said 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.

Related: Trucking Leaders Plan to Stay Course on Phase 2 GHG Regs

Automated Truck Platoon Test on the... x
Automated Truck Platoon Test on the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles.

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