State AGs Challenge EV Truck Mandates

Source: By Todd Neeley, Progressive farmer • Posted: Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Multiple States Take Aim at California, Federal Truck EV Mandates

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — The Biden administration and state regulators in California have exceeded their constitutional authority by forcing truck fleet owners across the country to transition to electric trucks, according to two federal lawsuits filed by multiple states on Monday.

Attorneys general in 24 states filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asking the court to vacate the Biden administration’s final greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

The rule, announced in late March, tightens emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles sold in the years 2027 through 2032. EPA officials said the rule is “technology neutral,” but would avoid 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The regulation essentially mandates the use of electric-vehicle technology, according to the states’ lawsuit.

Attorneys general in the case against the Biden administration include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The states said they intend to show the Biden administration’s “final rule exceeds the agency’s statutory authority and otherwise is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with law.”

In addition, 16 states along with the Arizona State Legislature and the Nebraska Trucking Association, filed a lawsuit against the state of California in the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern California, challenging the state’s Advanced Clean Fleets regulation.

“In a stunning gambit that both violates the constitution and threatens our nation’s economic security, an agency of the state of California has attempted to override federal law and arrogate to itself the power to ban internal-combustion engines in medium- and heavy-duty vehicles,” the states said in the California lawsuit.

“This attempted ban contravenes controlling law while defying real-world reality and burdening American families and businesses, already suffering from high inflation, with even more costs. Today, internal-combustion technology powers more than 95% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The alternative, battery-electric trucks, are unpopular among truck owners and operators. Battery-electric trucks are less efficient than current technology and create delays and additional costs that neither truckers nor end-consumers want to pay.”

The states included in the California lawsuit include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

California’s law lays out a schedule requiring certain truck fleets to phase out trucks using internal-combustion technology and to replace them with certain percentages of electric trucks by certain years.

In addition, it requires fleet owners to submit annual compliance reports to California regulators.

The plaintiffs argue the California regulation also regulates fleet owners across the country if they do business in California.

“California’s regulation, which is called Advanced Clean Fleets, masquerades as a rule for in-state conduct,” the lawsuit said.

“But by leveraging California’s large population and access to international ports on the West Coast, Advanced Clean Fleets exports its ‘in-state’ ban nationwide, creating harms which are certain to reach plaintiffs’ states. The regulation forces truckers in and out of California to retire their internal-combustion trucks if they want to come to California. This will inevitably disrupt the supply chain for all manner of goods, slow interstate transportation, raise prices on goods across the country, and impose costs on taxpayers and governments around the country.”

The California regulation was developed following a 2020 executive order signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom that called for decarbonizing the transportation sector.

“To that end, the executive order exhorted various California governmental entities to take unprecedented and drastic administrative actions that Gov. Newsom deemed ‘necessary to combat the climate crisis,'” the states said in the lawsuit.

“Gov. Newsom’s order singled out the trucking industry, setting several ‘goals’ specific to trucks. In particular, the executive order stated that it ‘shall be a goal’ of California that ‘100% of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission by 2035.’ Referring to trucks, the order also mandated ‘that 100% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the state be zero-emission by 2045 for all operations where feasible and by 2035 for drayage trucks.'”

The states said their economies depend on the “flow of goods and services across state lines.” They said the Constitution gives only Congress the power to regulate commerce among states.

“In creating that grant, the founders recognized that certain categories of conduct are best regulated through nationwide rules,” the lawsuit said.

“The Commerce Clause implies the converse as well: A patchwork of state-by-state regulations on some subjects would subvert the states’ common interest and must be prohibited.”

Also see, “EPA Rolls Out World’s Toughest Emission Standards for Heavy-Duty Trucks,”

Todd Neeley can be reached at

Follow him on social platform X @DTNeeley