Representing the first update to federal emissions regulations since 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a tough new standard in December for heavy-duty vehicles such as large trucks, delivery vans, and buses. The new standard goes into effect with the model year 2027.
The new rule requires heavy-duty trucks to cut down on tailpipe smog and soot by reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 48% by 2045 and will be more than 80% stronger than the current standard, according to the EPA’s 1,153-page rule.
The Biden Administration has made the case that changes are needed to mitigate climate change and improve public health. A U.S. Senate committee on the environment said that it estimated the new rules would result in the following annual benefits:
• Up to 2,900 fewer premature deaths
• 6,700 fewer hospital admissions and emergency department visits
• 18,000 fewer cases of asthma onset in children
• 78,000 fewer lost days of work
• 1.1 million fewer lost school days
The new rule would also require manufacturers to ensure that engines and emission systems are in working order, especially in limiting the ability for tampering with electronic pollution controls. EPA estimates this provision could cost as much as $2,500 for a heavy-duty diesel engine.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the new rule and new investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and Inflation Reduction Act in modern infrastructure and technology “will accelerate President Biden’s ambitious agenda to overhaul the nation’s trucking fleet, deliver cleaner air, and protect people and the planet.”
For the most part, the trucking industry reacted with skepticism and warned the EPA that making the new rule work would be challenging. Analysts believe the change will limit equipment options and turnover for fleets because new battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks are so expensive.
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer said, “If small business truckers can’t afford the new, compliant trucks, they’re going to stay with older, less efficient trucks, or leave the industry entirely,” he said. “Once again, EPA has largely ignored the warnings and concerns raised by truckers in this latest rule.”
The Inflation Reduction Act, however, does provide up to $40,000 in tax credits for new Class 8 electric and zero-emission trucks.
In a statement from the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, President Jed Mandel said, “While we are still in the process of reviewing the details of the newly published NOx emissions rule, it is clear the rule is very stringent and will be challenging to implement. Our members are fully committed to working with the EPA and other stakeholders for its successful implementation. Ultimately, the success or failure of this rule hinges on the willingness and ability of trucking fleets to invest in purchasing the new technology to replace their older, higher-emitting vehicles.”
American Trucking Associations (ATA) President Chris Spear said the organization is still reviewing the rule but is concerned that it is inconsistent with new rules issued in California by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
“ATA remains extremely concerned over the potential growth of state patchworks of NOx emission standards that will create havoc for an industry that operates across local, state, and international boundaries,” he said. “We hope EPA and CARB will ultimately agree to a uniform, single standard that best achieves our nation’s environmental goals.”