Greens ask court to maintain truck standards

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, October 16, 2017

Environmentalists and states are urging a federal appeals court to deny a motion by the truck industry to stay certain emissions curbs for tractor-trailers.

In a late-night motion yesterday, environmental groups said the standards — which were part of the Obama administration’s clean truck standards — will protect against the emission of greenhouse gases while saving fuel and money.

“The trailer provisions of the Clean Truck Standards are based on cost-effective and widely available measures that have long been used by industry leaders, and have been effectively incorporated into state standards for the past decade,” Environmental Defense Fund attorney Alice Henderson said in a statement. “It is critical that these common sense protections remain in place.”

At issue are U.S. EPA standards released in October 2016 that tightened fuel economy rules for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including semitrucks, work trucks and buses, through 2027. The rule covered trailers for the first time starting in 2018.

Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association Inc. sued in December, arguing that the Clean Air Act didn’t give EPA the authority to regulate trailers because they are not motor vehicles, having no engine or direct tailpipe emissions. The association separately petitioned EPA for reconsideration.

Last month, the group filed a motion asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to stay the trailer standards.

Environmental groups — the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists — and eight states led by California have intervened in the suit in defense of the standards (E&E News PM, Jan. 24).

Along with stressing the benefits of the rules, the environmentalists yesterday argued that the motion to stay the standards “comes seven months late.” The D.C. Circuit previously ordered that procedural motions be filed by Feb. 22.

The states also asked the court to reject the stay request, stating in a court filing that the association had exaggerated the burdens of complying with the standards. The standards require trailer manufacturers to equip many new trailers with “highly cost effective” and “widely available” components to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the states said.

EPA says it intends to revisit the standards, including the trailer requirements, and previously asked the court to pause the litigation. In a filing last night, the agency said it does not oppose the stay request. EPA, though, did not weigh in on the legal arguments in the truck association’s motion.