OOIDA to EPA: Truckers want efficiency but demand reliability, reasonable cost

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 8/6/2015

OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth took to the podium Thursday in Chicago to tell the EPA and NHTSA that truck owners and operators support fuel efficiency and reduced emissions – but not at the expense of downtime and an ever-increasing cost of new equipment due to regulations.

Grenerth spoke during the first of two scheduled public hearings on the proposed Phase 2 greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The proposed Phase 2 standards call for additional 20 percent gains in fuel economy and reduced carbon emissions by 2027 above and beyond the 20 percent gains that make up the Phase 1 final rule affecting truck model years 2014 through 2018. Phase 2 also calls for trailers and rolling resistance to make gains in addition to the aerodynamics and engine/drivetrain/exhaust systems already targeted in Phase 1.

“Our members have the potential to see the benefits from this rulemaking, but they also can be significantly harmed if it is not done correctly,” Grenerth said.

The Phase 2 plan relies on the equipment manufacturers to make choices in how their engines, drivetrains, exhaust, aerodynamics, weight savings and rolling resistance add up to achieve the efficiency gains.

Grenerth pointed out that some of the alternatives call for the use of technology – proven and unproven – to make the desired gains.

“While the alternatives with shorter lead times may seem enticing with their promised benefits to the environment, there are serious concerns about the feasibility of shorter lead times,” Grenerth said.

“There’s already a tremendous amount of very well-earned distrust as a result of previous emissions regulations, which led to widespread problems with reliability and high cost,” he added. “Members continue to be impacted by those issues every single day.”

“OOIDA members want to drive fuel-efficient and reliable trucks that are reasonably priced,” Grenerth said. He pointed out that previous EPA emissions regulations have added “tens of thousands” to the cost of new trucks.

The Phase 2 proposal could add $10,000 to $13,000 to the price of a new truck according to the EPA and NHTSA. Officials from the agencies asked Grenerth whether it was reasonable to expect those added costs to be recouped by the truck owner within two years.

“First you have to pay for it,” Grenerth said. He said that a survey by the OOIDA Foundation shows that 20 percent of respondents are considering purchasing a new truck, and that number was 50 percent just a decade ago.

“(Questionable) reliability and the price have the ability to wipe out the promises of this rulemaking,” Grenerth said.

Grenerth also pointed out that the location of the hearing in Chicago was not ideal for truckers themselves to attend.

OOIDA and other groups used part of their podium time on Thursday to call on the EPA and NHTSA to extend the comment period by 90 days and to hold a third public hearing at a location that accommodates truck parking.

As it stands now, the comment period is to last until Sept. 17. EPA and NHTSA will hold their second public hearing on Aug. 17 in Los Angeles.

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