Another lawsuit filed against EPA Phase 3 emissions plan

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The American Petroleum Institute (API), which represents all segments of the U.S. natural gas and oil industry today filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) heavy-duty (HD) vehicle emissions standards for model years 2027-2032. Joining the suit as co-petitioners are Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), National Corn Growers Association, and American Farm Bureau Federation.

The Biden administration in April finalized new federal emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles, including commercial vehicles. In the final rule, EPA projects that there would need to be significant deployment of zero emission vehicles (ZEV) throughout the HD fleet to meet emissions standards. For example, over 40% of vocational vehicles would need to be ZEVs by MY 2032, and long-haul tractors would need to go from virtually 0% today to 25% of the fleet by MY 2032.

The new rule is already ensnared in a number of lawsuits because, according to API Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ryan Meyers, "the EPA is forcing a switch to technology that simply does not presently exist for these kinds of vehicles – and even if it were someday possible, it will almost certainly have consequences for your average American. This is sadly yet another example of this administration pushing unpopular policy mandates that lack statutory authority, and we look forward to holding them accountable in court.”

Todd Spencer, president of Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) noted that trucking is an industry compiled of many small businesses (small business truckers make up 96% of trucking, according to OOIDA), and could be regulated out of existence if the EPA’s unworkable heavy-duty rule comes into effect.

"This rule would devastate the reliability of America’s supply chain and ultimately increase costs for consumers. Mom and pop trucking businesses would be suffocated by the sheer cost and operational challenges of effectively mandating zero emission trucks, but this administration appears intent on forcing through its deluge of misguided environmental mandates," he said. 

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While it could take decades to get enough electric vehicles on the road to make a dent in GHG emissions, Minnesota farmer and National Corn Growers Association President Harold Wolle said lower carbon fuels such as ethanol are critical and effective climate tools that are available now. 

“EPA has tried to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing climate change by prioritizing electric vehicles over other climate remedies like corn ethanol,” Wolle said. "Ethanol is not only critical in the climate fight, but it also saves consumers money at the pump while benefiting America’s rural economies. We look forward to making this case in court.” 

EPA rules ding the U.S. agriculture industry more than once, said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. 

“Farmers rely on heavy-duty trucks to transport livestock long distances, and they choose the most efficient routes to ensure the animals in their care remain on the vehicle for as little time as possible. Unfortunately, heavy-duty vehicles that are powered by batteries have short ranges and require hours to charge," he said. "Impractical regulations will extend the amount of time on the road, putting the health and safety of drivers and livestock at risk if they need to stop for long periods of time to charge.” 

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected]
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The following survey was sent as a link in an email cover message in February 2023 to the newsletter lists for Overdrive and CCJ. After approximately two weeks, a total of 176 owner-operators under their own authority, 113 owner-operators leased or assigned to a carrier and 82 fleet executives and 36 fleet employees from fleets with 10 or more power units had completed and submitted the questionnaire for a total of 407 qualified responses. Cross-tabulations based on respondent type are provided for each question when applicable.
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