EPA to 'revisit' next wave of greenhouse gas rules

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 8/18/2017

Another burdensome regulation bearing down on the trucking industry is on the potential chopping block. The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it will “revisit” provisions of the upcoming Phase 2 of the greenhouse gas regulations.

“In light of the significant issues raised, the agency has decided to revisit the Phase 2 trailer and glider provisions,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a news release. “We intend to initiate a rulemaking process that incorporates the latest technical data and is wholly consistent with our authority under the Clean Air Act.”

Since October 2002, the trucking industry has endured a series of limbo-lower-now emission reduction regulations. The cumulative cost of compliance with the regulation has been credited with adding $50,000 to $70,000 (depending on the truck and systems) to the cost of a new truck.

In a 2016 survey conducted by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Foundation, 12 percent of those surveyed said they planned to buy a new truck in the next three years. That number was at 50 percent just a decade ago.

The Phase 2 proposal builds upon a Phase 1 final rule for model years 2014 through 2018 and for equipment manufacturers to increase fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions by about 23 percent by model year 2027.

The upcoming rule targets model year 2021-27 medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and loops trailers and glider kits into the regulation. Compliance deadlines for the regulation are set to begin in 2018.

Particularly troublesome in upcoming Phase 2 is the regulation of glider kits. Many owner-operators have turned to the customizable, less expensive option when purchasing a “new” truck. In fact, in the OOIDA survey, 14 percent said they would be buying a glider kit as their next truck – 2 percent more than those planning on buying new.

Shops that build the glider kit trucks are set to be limited to 300 units per year.

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., has been leading the charge in Congress to exempt glider kits from the upcoming regulation. Following the EPA’s announcement on Thursday, Black shared her appreciation for the agency’s willingness to give the rule a second look.

“The Obama administration’s rule not only ignores the benefits of gliders, it destroys an entire industry. To say that I am grateful for the hard work of Administrator Pruitt and his team is an understatement,” Black said in a news release.

According to Black, glider kit manufacturers such as Fitzgerald Glider Kits, Harrison Truck Centers and Indiana Phoenix, argue that when the regulation was being developed proper research was not conducted.

The EPA did not perform any testing to analyze the environmental impact of remanufactured engines and gliders compared to new, or original equipment manufacturer vehicles, according to Black. Instead, it relied on unsubstantiated assumptions about the number of older engines used in gliders and their emissions.

Black says this argument was confirmed in a 2016 study by Tennessee Tech University. The study tested emissions from 13 vehicles and concluded that remanufactured engines performed equally as well as the OEM engines when compared with the 2010 EPA emissions standards.

“This study demonstrates that the so-called data the EPA relied upon was based on unsupported assumptions rather than true science,” Black said.

In addition to limiting options for truckers looking to update their equipment, the regulation limiting companies – like Fitzgerald, Harrison and Indiana Phoenix – could prove devastating.

“Tennesseans deeply value the work ethic that those in this industry exemplify, and it is with great pride that we can count this as a victory for communities across our state. I applaud the administrator for recognizing the harmful effects this overreaching regulation would have on thousands of families dependent on this trade as a way of life.”

Tommy Fitzgerald Sr., co-founder of Fitzgerald Glider Kits, Byrdstown, Tenn., also thanked the administrator for agreeing to revisit the regulation.

“On behalf of my family and the terrific employees at Fitzgerald Glider Kits, I want to thank Congressman Black and Administrator Pruitt for their leadership on this issue and genuinely caring for the concerns of small businesses like ours,” Fitzgerald said. “There is a way to strike a rational balance between environmental concerns and jobs, but this rule is not it. The EPA’s announcement should inspire small businesses everywhere.”

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