By Jack McEvoy
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule Tuesday that will impose stricter nitrogen dioxide emissions standards on new heavy-duty trucks, a move that will substantially hike operating costs for truckers, experts and industry representatives told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The EPA’s rule, which is more than 80% stricter than the previous regulation, will require large trucks, delivery vans and buses manufactured after 2027 to cut nitrogen dioxide emissions by nearly 50% by 2045, according to an agency press release. The agency’s rule is intended to push truckers to phase out diesel-powered vehicles and use electric vehicles (EV) instead; however, the compliance costs associated with such rules could suffocate an industry that is not ready to transition to EVs, experts told the DCNF.
“It’s an overreach that is indicative of this administration’s tendency to set aside balance to achieve the goals of activists that they are politically aligned with,” Mandy Gunasekara, a senior policy analyst for the Independent Women’s Forum and former EPA Chief of Staff during the Trump administration, told the DCNF. “It’s going to squeeze out the mid-sized and smaller trucking companies because they’re not going to be able to afford to purchase the new, extremely expensive equipment required to continue to do what they do.”
The new rules are intended to phase out older trucks that emit more nitrogen dioxide and will push drivers to purchase electric trucks or newer models of diesel trucks that do not produce as much nitrogen dioxide when they burn fuel, according to the EPA.
“If small business truckers can’t afford the new, compliant trucks, they’re going to stay with older, less efficient trucks or leave the industry entirely,” Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer told trade publication Freight Waves. “Once again, EPA has largely ignored the warnings and concerns raised by truckers in this latest rule.”
EPA Administrator Michael Regan said that the rule would protect “historically overburdened communities,” that are disproportionately affected by trucking emissions as truck freight routes are often located near “vulnerable populations,” according to the press release. Nitrogen dioxide gas can exacerbate respiratory diseases like asthma and form acid rain in the atmosphere which can damage lakes and forests, according to the EPA.
“The EPA is happy to go easy on big trucking since they support regulations that will harm their smaller competitors far more,” Steve Milloy, Energy and Environmental Legal Institute senior legal fellow and former Trump administration EPA transition team member, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Regan announced the new rule in front of an electric garbage truck produced by Mack Trucks and following his remarks, Mack spokesman John Mies stated that his company supports the administration’s zero emissions targets for trucks and is working to cut “dangerous” emissions produced by diesel trucks, according to CNN.
“Companies have taken the initiative to electrify a certain percentage of their fleet by a certain year and have made plans to build the necessary infrastructure, but they are then told that there isn’t enough power to achieve what they’re seeking,” Texas Trucking Association President John Esparza told the DCNF. “The costs associated with this are also a concern because these are costs that not only the industry will bear … prices will go up for everybody.”
The EPA’s final rule is the first step in its “Clean Trucks Plan” which seeks to heavily regulate trucks’ emissions to push drivers to adopt electric trucks.
Gunesakara echoed Esparza’s comments and said that such targets were a “technological fantasy” that could cost truckers their jobs due to the high price of electric trucks. Gunesakara added that the EPA’s rules would force truck drivers to drive older, more polluting and less efficient vehicles for longer as diesel trucks will be rapidly phased out long before EVs can become a more viable alternative.
The EPA touted its new rule and said that it will result in up to 2,900 fewer premature deaths, 18,000 fewer cases of childhood asthma and 6,700 fewer hospital admissions as well as an overall annual net economic benefit of $29 billion due to fewer missed work days. The agency’s trucking rules are less strict than California’s regulations as heavy vehicles in the state must cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 75% starting in 2024, and 90% starting in 2027, according to a California Air Resource Board rule.
The EPA did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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