Coalition sues EPA over fuel economy standards, GHG rule

| 11/8/2011

The Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas emissions regulation for diesel trucks has been legally challenged by a coalition of small businesses and trade organizations.

The greenhouse gas regulations, unveiled earlier this year, mandate the first fuel mileage standards ever enforced on commercial trucks.

The petition for review was filed Nov. 4 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by Delta Construction Company Inc., Dalton Trucking Inc., Southern California Contractors Association, and the California Dump Truck Owners Association.

The plaintiffs worked with the Pacific Legal Foundation – an organization that litigates on behalf of property rights and a balanced approach to environmental regulations.

The Pacific Legal Foundation is arguing that EPA must provide its Science Advisory Board with an opportunity to comment on the rules before they’re finalized. The petition also says EPA must comply with special rulemaking provisions in federal law that requires “rigorous scrutiny” of certain proposed regulations.”

“EPA is dictating onerous new rules for vehicle manufacturers while violating important legal rules itself,” said Pacific Legal Foundation Senior Staff Attorney Ted Hadzi-Antich. “Federal law says EPA can’t issue new clean-air regulations without submitting the proposals for independent scrutiny by its Science Advisory Board. EPA recklessly ignored this requirement. We’re suing because federal regulators can't be allowed to thumb their noses at legal safeguards that are designed to ensure that new regulations are credible and well-considered. When EPA acts like a scofflaw, it has to be called to account.”

“EPA rushed these rules through in order to impose comprehensive controls on carbon dioxide emissions as quickly as possible,” said Hadzi-Antich. “They literally broke the law in their haste. Their refusal to submit the rules to independent scrutiny is especially troubling because these regulations would have a huge impact on the industry and the economy. They’ll bring unprecedented federal intrusion into the manufacturing and use of medium and heavy-duty vehicles. They would add many thousands of dollars to the costs of new vehicles.”

In comments the California Dump Truck Owners Association filed with EPA in January, the dump truck owners association said two public hearings scheduled by EPA were held before the proposed regulations were unveiled, denying “the public with an effective opportunity” for arguments as required by law.

The dump truck owners association also pointed out EPA’s departure from the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences – specifically a lack of a thorough pilot study to gather fuel consumption data from several representative fleets of vehicles.

Last month, OOIDA Member Scott Grenerth testified before Congress about how the agency ignored small-business truckers in the rulemaking process, which drew fire later in the hearing from EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy that OOIDA and small-business truckers had in fact been involved.

OOIDA Executive Vice President wrote a letter to McCarthy challenging that assertion.

“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,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer wrote in a letter to McCarthy following the hearing.