A federal court has made it official, putting off indefinitely the implementation date for trailers under the federal government’s heavy-duty truck fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards (GHG2). Whether the decision to stay the January 1, 2018 deadline eases or compounds uncertainty for trailer manufacturers and trucking companies remains to be seen, however.
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on October 27 granted the stay, as requested by the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) in its petition for a of review the trailer component of GHG 2, a plan implemented by the Obama Administration in 2016 that, as designed, was projected to reduce carbon emissions by more than a billion metric tons through 2027.
For the first time, trailers were included in the emissions program as an integral part of the vehicle. The rule would require new trailers to be equipped with aerodynamic devices, fuel efficient tires, and other technologies to improve the overall fuel efficiency of the combination vehicle. EPA had exempted some tank trailers from the rule, while the status of others (such as dry bulkers) was left in limbo.
TTMA, however, has argued that EPA doesn’t have the authority to regulate trailers under the Clean Air Act, while also taking issue with a number of the assumptions EPA used to justify the regulation.
“It’s a good thing,” TTMA President Jeff Sims told Bulk Transporter’s sister publication Trailer/Body Builders. “It’s an indefinite stay, basically until EPA comes out with their final review of the rules for trailers. Trailers can be built as if the rules do not exist.”
In August, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that the government would “reconsider” portions of GHG 2 that pertain to trailers and truck glider equipment. A week ago, the Office of Management and Budget posted notice that it had received from EPA a draft Proposed Rule that would repeal the GHG 2 emission requirements for glider vehicles, glider engines, and glider kits.
While the text of the repeal will not be available until the OMB review is complete and EPA moves forward with the rulemaking, Sims said he anticipates the review will be handled quickly, given the GHG 2 implementation schedule.
“I’m fairly confident EPA will have the same for trailers in the next few weeks,” Sims added.
Some environmental groups, however, have criticized the Trump Administration’s EPA for backing away from GHG 2. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) called the decision to reconsider the rule ‘a highly unusual action that emerged publicly at the 11th hour.’
“We are disappointed that the court allowed a delay of these important climate and public health safeguards that save truckers and families hard earned money,” said EDF General Counsel Vickie Patton. “Importantly, the EPA’s vital limits on climate pollution from freight truck engines, a major and rapidly growing source of pollution, remain in full force and effect.”
The court’s grant of a stay pending judicial review will not affect other provisions of the truck standards.