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ATA fighting California's move to control greenhouse gases; trailer regs on hold at EPA.

CALIFORNIA HAS LONG relished its reputation as a state of trendsetters, whether it comes to movies, fashion, or in the Golden State's most aggressive measures to control and improve air quality. However, trucking officials are now arguing that California goes too far in its quest for cleaner air and crosses the line because truckers are saying that the state is impeding interstate commerce.

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), officials are concerned that by moving to reopen the second phase of its Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and HeavyDuty rule, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could be setting the stage for California to impose a de facto national standard that supersedes federal rules.

"ATA is proud of our record on fuel efficiency and sustainability," said Chris Spear, president and CEO of the ATA. "In large part due to our support for Phase 1 of the EPA's greenhouse gas rule, today's new trucks are cleaner and more efficient than ever."

According to Spear, truckers have been working closely with EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Phase 2 to continue building on that success. "But by reopening the rule to reexamine trailers and glider kits, EPA has opened the door to California taking the lead, and a more aggressive track, in setting trailer standards," he said.

On nearly every regulatory matter, truckers prefer one national standard--whether it's truck size and weight limits, fuel standards and emissions or, in this case, fuel mileage standards--to what they call a "patchwork" of varying state regulations that ATA said impedes interstate commerce.

"As representatives of an interstate industry," said Spear, "ATA believes that a single national standard, set by federal regulators, is preferable to at worst a patchwork of state standards, or at best a defacto national standard that is set without the appropriate opportunity for the entire regulated community--many members of which are not based in California--to weigh in."

Originally proposed by the Obama administration four years ago, the tougher environmental standards were due to be phased in during three periods. Scott Pruitt, the current EPA administrator, has been weakening or eliminating many of those mandates, and truckers are waiting to see if the greenhouse gas emissions standards are going by the wayside as well.

The EPA had estimated these Phase 2 rules were to start on Jan. 1, 2018, for trailers. That would be followed in three rollouts through 2027. The idea was to cut greenhouse gases (GHG) by 13% by 2021, 20% by 2024 and 25% by 2027. The cost for the trailers-only rule in 2018 was estimated at $1,090 per trailer. But the per-vehicle tractor costs will be $12,300 by 2027. An EPA spokesman said no timeline has been set for these new rules.

This marks the first time trailers have been regulated by the EPA. In turn, the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association has filed suit against the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That case has been on hold at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In the meantime, the TTMA says it's worried about the Jan. 1 deadline.

"Our concern remains over the implementation date of those rules, which are still scheduled to begin just a few short months away," said TTMA officials.

In August, TTMA said it received letters from both the EPA and NHTSA stating that they have reviewed its petitions for reconsideration of the new greenhouse gas regulations for heavy-duty trailers. TTMA said the government agreed that further rulemaking is needed.

John D. Schulz, contributing editor
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Title Annotation:TRUCKING
Author:Schulz, John D.
Publication:Logistics Management (Highlands Ranch, Co.)
Date:Oct 1, 2017
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