Environment & Energy Report

Truck Industry Awaits EPA Rewrite After Trailer Rule Paused

Oct. 27, 2017, 4:16 PMUpdated: Oct. 27, 2017, 10:49 PM

The truck and trailer industry won’t have to comply with the EPA’s greenhouse gas requirements for now, but the industry is still waiting to see whether the agency will exempt it from the overall regulation.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Oct. 27 granted a request from the Truck Trailer Manufacturing Association to pause requirements for trailers under the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule limiting greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks (Truck Trailer Mfgs. Ass’n v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 16-1430, 10/27/17).

But the court’s pause of the requirements is only a first step for the trailer group, which is fighting the rule in court and wants Trump officials to rewrite the truck rule to exempt its members entirely from the regulation. Environmental groups strongly oppose such an exemption, noting the trailer requirements account for at least 10 percent of the total rule’s climate benefits.

The EPA is reconsidering various parts of the rule, including the provisions and for trailers and so-called glider kits. On Oct. 20, the agency signaled it plans to scrap the glider kit requirements in a proposal sent to the White House for review.

A glider kit is a new chassis and cab assembly built for the installation of a used engine and transmission.

That could be good sign for the trailers provision, Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications for the Western States Trucking Association, told Bloomberg BNA, calling it a relatively easy fix.

“You just simply remove them from the rulemaking,” he said.

The Clean Air Act only allows the EPA to regulate “motor vehicles,” which does not include trailers, opponents of the rule say.

Jeff Sims, president of the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, told Bloomberg Environment the group is “pleased” with the court’s decision but declined to comment further.

Systemwide Approach

The EPA’s 2016 rule, the first to regulate trailers in addition to the trucks themselves, requires trucks to achieve a 9 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2027.

“So we’re talking over 100 million metric tons of global warming pollution that is potentially now at stake” if the trailers provision is cut, Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Bloomberg Environment.

Some trucking groups such as the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association that favor uniform national requirements have previously expressed concern that reconsidering portions of the federal truck standards may lead to California setting its own, more-stringent requirements. The association represents more than two dozen companies including major manufacturers Daimler Trucks North America LLC, Caterpillar Inc., Paccar Inc., and Navistar Inc.

“When you start now plucking and pulling at different parts of the rule, you’re undermining the whole systemwide approach the EPA took in developing the rule,” Cooke said.

Rajkovacz, though, criticized the EPA’s assumptions in its rulemaking.

“The irony of ironies is where doing aerodynamic add-ons makes sense, people are doing it,” he said.

(This story has been updated with additional reporting.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Abby Smith in Washington at asmith@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

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