OOIDA member delivers dose of regulation reality to EPA, NHTSA

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 8/18/2015

“As I see it, these regulations, and a rush to push technology beyond tested capabilities, have cost me my retirement.” – OOIDA Life Member Tilden Curl

Representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration held a listening session on Tuesday in Long Beach, Calif., to get feedback on the newly proposed regulation on truck emissions and fuel economy.

And did they get feedback.

OOIDA Life Member Tilden Curl from Olympia, Wash., walked the panel through the realities he has faced on the road and in his business thanks to previous emission regulations.

Curl detailed his truck ownership and fuel economy starting with a 1995 Peterbilt he bought for $65,000. After 10 years with the truck, Curl had invested just less than $95,000 in maintenance and repairs, including a rebuild and transmission. The last year he owned the truck he averaged 6.58 mpg.

In October 2008, Curl purchased a new aerodynamic, emission-compliant 2009 Kenworth for $140,000. In seven years of ownership, Curl drove the truck more than 752,000 miles and had $105,000 in maintenance and repairs. He suffered significant downtime that hurt his income and reputation as a reliable carrier, he told the panel. And, in the end, the truck was only able to achieve 6.15 mpg.

Finally giving up on the ’09 truck, Curl bit the bullet and bought a 2016 Kenworth earlier this year for $167,000. He had originally planned to pay off the 2009 Kenworth and sock away what was the truck payment toward his retirement, he told the panel.

“As I see it, these regulations, and a rush to push technology beyond tested capabilities, have cost me my retirement. There is no mechanism in place to compensate small-business truckers for the costs of these mandates,” he said. “We cannot afford for this to happen again.”

Curl told the panel that there is a great deal of skepticism about promises of technology that will not cost much more, but will provide savings.

“With this widespread background of experiences, small-business truckers such as myself will find it hard to believe that a mandate from EPA/NHTSA will truly benefit them,” he said.

He cautioned the panel against pushing ahead with mandates that force untested, unreliable technologies to market all for the sake of compliance with regulations.

“There are other alternatives. I was able to achieve good fuel economy with my pre-emissions un-aerodynamic truck partly due to my driving skills. If those skills were taught to others, fuel economy would improve,” he said.

He also recounted a recent trip in which he was caught in congested traffic for an extended period of time and burned an additional 10 gallons of fuel – something that needs to be addressed across the country.

“The agencies are seemingly using facts they prefer with little regard for the burdens placed on small-business operations. Technology must have durability. That is crucial for success. We all want a clean environment. The question is: Is your focus in the right place?” he asked.

Last week, OOIDA issued a Call To Action on the proposal by EPA and NHTSA, urging members to get involved.

The proposal calls for equipment manufacturers to increase fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions by about 23 percent by model year 2027. The proposal is known as Greenhouse Gas Phase 2, or GHG Phase 2, and it goes well beyond a Phase 1 final rule that affects model years 2014 through 2018.

To achieve their desired environmental gains, the EPA and NHTSA are proposing to regulate trailers and tires as part of the overall mix for commercial vehicles. They are also proposing to regulate glider kits for the first time.

The agencies are providing a menu of sorts for manufacturers to choose from using various components and technologies – some of which are unproven or could add to the ever-increasing cost of new equipment. The agencies predict that their proposal could add $10,000 to $13,000 to the sticker price for a new truck by 2027.

EPA and NHTSA are asking for stakeholder input before they push toward a possible final rule.

Truckers can learn more about what they’re commenting on by reading Land Line Magazine’s primer online and in the August/September issue. OOIDA also has resources available at FightingForTruckers.com.

Time is ticking on the comment period, but it is important to note that GHG Phase 2 is not a final rule yet. Although OOIDA has asked the agencies to extend the comment period, so far that has not been granted.

There are a few ways to comment. Since it is a joint proposal, there are two docket numbers – one for EPA and one for NHTSA.

For EPA, refer to Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OAR–2014-0827 when making comments.

File online at regulations.gov; by email to a-and-r-docket@epa.gov; or by mail to EPA at Air and Radiation Docket and Information Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail code: 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460.

For NHTSA, refer to Docket ID No. NHTSA-2014-0132.

File online at regulations.gov, or by mail to NHTSA at Docket Management Facility, M–30, U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Rm. W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590.

Editor’s note: Senior Editor David Tanner contributed to this article.

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