Image of a big rig truck on the highway via Wikimedia

Biden Administration Announces Crackdown on Diesel Big Rig Trucks

The Biden administration’s aggressive new emissions regulations targeting heavy-duty trucks and buses, finalized by the EPA on Friday, are drawing sharp criticism from the trucking industry and Republican lawmakers who argue the rules will impose crippling costs on small operators and drive up prices for consumers.

Under the regulations, which represent the strongest greenhouse gas emissions standards ever imposed on heavy-duty vehicles, an increasing percentage of trucks and buses will need to be zero-emissions starting with model year 2027 vehicles.

By 2032, the EPA projects that 50% of vocational trucks, 35% of short-haul tractor-trailers and 25% of long-haul tractor-trailers produced will need to be electric.

While the administration touts the regulations as unlocking “extraordinary public health, climate, and economic gains,” trucking advocates warn they are unworkable and will regulate many small operators out of business.

“Small business truckers, who happen to care about clean air for themselves and their kids as much as anyone, make up 96% of trucking,” said Todd Spencer, president of Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Yet, this administration seems dead set on regulating every local mom-and-pop business out of existence with its flurry of unworkable environmental mandates.”

Industry groups also question whether the technology and charging infrastructure will be ready in time to support such a rapid electrification of the nation’s trucking fleet.

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In comments to the EPA, the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association argued the administration overestimated “the nearer-term feasible market penetration and adoption rates of electric trucks, and the demand for them.”

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and American Petroleum Institute went further, calling on Congress to overturn the regulations and threatening legal action.

“This is yet another example of the Biden administration’s whole-of-government effort to eliminate choices for American consumers, businesses and industries,” the groups said in a joint statement.

Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska plans to introduce a resolution to rescind the standards, arguing they will add “more regulatory dead weight onto our economy and our critical supply chains” amid high inflation. “Hard-working families across the country will pay the price if this rule is allowed to stand. The cost of this rule will be felt in the rising price of gas, bread, eggs and other life essentials.”

While environmental groups praised the EPA for cracking down on a sector that accounts for nearly a quarter of U.S. transportation emissions, critics warn the costs will reverberate throughout the economy as higher trucking expenses drive up the price of virtually all consumer goods.

Less than 1% of new truck sales are currently zero-emissions, underscoring the monumental shift the industry faces to comply with the administration’s aggressive timetable.

In finalizing somewhat less stringent standards than originally proposed, the EPA appears to have made minor concessions to industry concerns.

But the trucking sector still faces a steep uphill climb to electrify its fleet, casting doubt on the feasibility of the administration’s emissions goals without severe economic disruption.

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As the regulations move forward, expect heated court battles and a tug-of-war between environmental and industry interests, with American consumers caught in the middle.

Image Source: Wikimedia