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Federal Update
Truckers weigh in on second fuel economy and greenhouse gas rule

By David Tanner, senior editor

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 recently sought input from stakeholders on environmental costs.

An open comment period scheduled to close Aug. 8 provided an opportunity for truckers to weigh in on how federal mandates affect their businesses and their lives.

NHTSA was required to seek comments as the agency develops an environmental impact statement for 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 already set in motion by NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency in a 2011 final rule.

The first phase calls for a 20 percent increase in fuel economy and a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the 2014-2018 time frame using primarily existing technology.

Phase II calls for the implementation of new, unproven technologies and also ropes trailers into the mix.

OOIDA was preparing comments at press time.

“This certainly has provided 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.”

Truckers will get another opportunity to speak up once NHTSA publishes the environmental impact statement.

“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. LL