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OOIDA: EPA should have included small-business truckers

By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

The Environmental Protection Agency should have included small-business truckers when developing its fuel mileage standards, and a high-level administrator at the EPA should not have publicly claimed the agency did so.

In a letter dated Oct. 13, 2011, OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer took to task Gina McCarthy, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation.

During an October congressional committee hearing, McCarthy claimed that OOIDA met with EPA representatives “extensively,” and comments from the meetings “led to significant changes in the final” version of a recently unveiled rule that mandates fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks.

Her remarks followed the first panel of witnesses, where OOIDA Member Scott Grenerth told the committee that small-business truckers, those who would be most deeply affected, were not included in the process.

OOIDA representatives did briefly meet EPA officials on Nov. 1, 2010, “for a brief introduction that lasted no more than an hour,” Spencer said. However, aside from an email reinforcing the Association’s desire to be part of the rulemaking process and two brief phone calls, OOIDA was not allowed to be significantly involved with the rulemaking.

“OOIDA made efforts to become significantly involved with the rulemaking; however, these efforts were rebuffed,” Spencer wrote.

Ironically, EPA embraced engagement with the “corporate, big business trucking community during the development of the rule,” Spencer said.

“I guess your confusion between the representatives of large, corporate, multibillion-dollar trucking companies and the representatives for hundreds of thousands of small-business truckers across the country who average an income of around $38,000 a year and represent approximately 90 percent of the industry should be expected.

“What I do not understand is how you make claims that our views led to significant changes to the rule under oath, when the record shows just the opposite. OOIDA is mentioned only once across the entire final rule, final regulatory impact analysis and response to comments, while ATA is mentioned dozens of times, including changes to the rule made specifically at the request of ATA,” Spencer said.

OOIDA Member Scott Grenerth testified before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs in mid-October 2011. Grenerth, a 10-year trucking veteran, has a passion for environmental stewardship and once worked as an environmental educator. Grenerth and his wife were married on Earth Day in 1995, and showed their commitment to the planet by changing their last name to Grenerth – pronounced “green earth.”

Grenerth educated committee members on the realities that small-business truckers face. He said that compared with large trucking companies, small-business truckers and owner-operators have a very different reality when it comes to fuel efficiency.

“Simply put, with diesel at close to $4 a gallon, if I do not drive in a fuel-efficient manner, I will be driving myself out of business,” he said.

EPA would have done well to ask the opinion of a single truck driver during the development of its fuel standards rule, Grenerth said.

Spencer agreed.

“The handful of emails, one meeting and two phone calls does not constitute ‘extensive’ engagement,” wrote Spencer. “Further proving that point, in the record memorializing our November 2010 meeting, the staff did not even bother to learn the correct names of the participants.”

“Your agency took every step possible to develop a close working relationship with the interests of large motor carriers and to ignore the input from the small business and owner-operator trucking community.

“In fact, this rule was certified to have no impact to small entities. As OOIDA stated in our testimony, it is hard to understand why EPA and NHTSA chose not to tap into the collective knowledge of truckers on how to improve fuel efficiency,” Spencer wrote. “We stand by that statement and by the view that the Heavy-Duty Truck Rule is a bad deal for small-business truckers.” LL

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