Opportunity arises for truckers to comment on proposed fuel-economy standards

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Wednesday, July 09, 2014

What effects will the next round of federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for heavy trucks have in the future? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is asking for input on possible environmental effects, but an open comment period is also an opportunity for truckers to weigh in on how federal mandates affect their businesses and their lives.

NHTSA opened a 30-day comment period on Wednesday, July 9, as the agency prepares an environmental impact statement for the standards it plans on setting for post-2018 heavy trucks, engines and trailers.

The post-2018 proposal, which has become known as “GHG Phase II,” follows up on and goes beyond the 2014-through-2018 standards set by NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency in a 2011 final rule.

The first phase, known as “GHG Phase I,” calls for a 20-percent increase in fuel economy and a 20-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the 2014-2018 timeframe using primarily existing technology.

GHG Phase II differs from the first phase because it calls for the implementation of new, unproven technologies and ropes trailers into the mix.

OOIDA intends to file comments by the Aug. 8 deadline and encourages truckers to do the same.

“This is certainly an opportunity for truckers to weigh in on the broader issues surrounding GHG rules and how they affect small-business truckers, including past EPA rules that actually reduced fuel economy in trucks,” said OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley.

“This rulemaking has been identified as a priority by the president, which means that its development is on the fast track for the agencies involved.”

“If EPA and NHTSA require brand-new tractors to be designed a certain way that limits a truck owner’s right to modify that design, that trucker is forced to change his business model,” Bowley said.

In 2012, the American Truck Dealers, a division of the National Automobile Dealers Association, estimated that EPA-imposed emission standards from 2004 through 2010 added approximately $21,000 to the price of a new truck. That total does not include interest, financing charges, or an increase in excise taxes paid on costlier equipment.

When making comments, refer to Docket No. NHTSA-2014-0074. To file online, visit regulations.gov. Fax comments to 202-493-2251, or mail them to Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590.

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