Land Line: Senators urge EPA to move quickly on strict truck emission standards

By Tyson Fisher

Two senators are putting pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize a rule that will establish stricter truck emission standards.

On Wednesday, Nov. 29, Sens. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., held a press conference to voice their support for the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3 The senators want the rule finalized by early 2024.

“EPA has ample authority here, and I echo (Padilla’s) call to the EPA administrator to do this strong and do this quick,” Whitehouse said during the press conference. “We don’t want it to lurk over into congressional review act territory.”

The proposed rule has received mix reactions. While many lawmakers and stakeholders have voiced support for the rule, many others are worried that the EPA is moving too fast.

Truck emission standards Phase 3
In April, the EPA issued a proposed rule that will set the strictest truck emission standards at the federal level.

The EPA’s proposed truck emission standards would require a quarter of new heavy trucks sold in the U.S. to be all-electric by 2032.

The upfront cost difference between an electric truck and an internal combustion engine truck is $582 for a short-haul daycab tractor. However, that price difference skyrockets to $14,712 for long-haul sleeper cab tractors.

The EPA is proposing stronger carbon dioxide standards for model year 2027 heavy-duty vehicles that go beyond the current emission standards that apply under the HD Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas program. It also is proposing an additional set of carbon dioxide standards for heavy-duty vehicles that would begin to apply in model year 2028, with progressively lower standards each model year through 2032.

Support for Phase 3
The EPA’s Phase 3 for truck emission standards has garnered support from federal lawmakers and heavy-duty vehicle industry stakeholders.

In September, 80 federal lawmakers signed off on a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan urging the agency to finalize and issue strong vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards for both cars and trucks by the end of the year.

Although the letter was bicameral, it was not bipartisan. All signees were Democrats.

Prior to the EPA publishing the final rule in April, Padilla and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., along with 56 other federal lawmakers issued a letter to Regan urging the administration to “swiftly issue” proposed rules governing clean car and truck emission standards. In the letter, the lawmakers wanted the EPA to finalize those rules before the end of the year.

A push for stricter truck emission standards also has gained the support of heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers. In July, leading truck manufacturers reached a Clean Truck Partnership with the California Air Resources Board, committing themselves to reach California’s zero-emission truck standards.

The Clean Truck Partnership includes Cummins, Daimler Truck North America, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Hino Motors Limited, Isuzu Technical Center of America, Navistar, Paccar, Stellantis N.V., Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association and Volvo Group North America.

Those entities are committing to meet California’s vehicle standards that require the sale and adoption of zero-emission technology in the state. This commitment is regardless of any challenges to California’s authority to set more stringent emission standards under the federal Clean Air Act.

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