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What to Know About the EPA’s New Cleaner Truck Initiative


December 17, 2018
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the Cleaner Truck Initiative (CTI)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the Cleaner Truck Initiative (CTI). The centerpiece of the initiative is a forthcoming rulemaking to decrease emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) from heavy-duty trucks and engines. According to the EPA, the new rulemaking will lower emissions, while also streamlining regulatory compliance.

What to Know About the EPA’s New Cleaner Truck Initiative

Photo courtesy of Mean Shadows (Unsplash.com)

EPA Cleaner Truck Initiative

The EPA last addressed NOx standards for onroad heavy-duty trucks and buses in January 2001. While U.S. NOx emissions dropped by more than 40 percent from 2007 to 2017, the EPA expects that heavy-duty trucks will be responsible for one-third of NOx emissions from transportation in 2025.  “Updating these standards will result in NOx reductions from mobile sources and could be one important way that allows areas across the U.S. to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and particulate matter,” the EPA said in a press statement announcing the initiative.

The EPA also plans to reduce regulatory burdens through its new emissions rulemaking. “The CTI will cut unnecessary red tape while simplifying certification of compliance requirements for heavy-duty trucks and engines,” the EPA stated. “Areas of deregulatory focus will include onboard diagnostic requirements, cost-effective means of reassuring real world compliance by using modern and advanced technologies, the deterioration factor testing process, and concerns regarding annual recertification of engine families.”

The EPA intends to publish a proposed rule in early 2020 after engaging with stakeholders.

Lawsuit Over Fuel Efficiency Standards

The EPA’s new initiative stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s decision to rollback rules to impose stronger fuel-economy standards on light-duty vehicles. Beginning in 2010, the EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the California Air Resources Board established a single national program of greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2012-2025 vehicles. Under the Obama-era regulations, the standard for average fuel efficiency would increase to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. 

Last year, the EPA affirmed that the national standards were appropriate based on an extensive record of data. However, the agency announced in April that the fuel efficiency standards “may be too stringent” and should be revised.

One month later, New Jersey joined a coalition of 17 states in filing suit against the EPA. In a press release, the states said their lawsuit “seeks to set aside and hold unlawful the EPA’s effort to weaken the nation’s existing clean car rules … based on the fact that the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously, failed to follow its own regulations, and violated the Clean Air Act.”

In August, the EPA and NHTSA released a notice of proposed rulemaking, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks (SAFE Vehicles Rule). It calls for freezing the model year 2020 standards of 35 miles-per-gallon through 2026. The proposed rule also calls for a national emissions standard, which would revoke the authority of states like California to enact tougher emissions standards.

Last month, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal joined the attorneys general of 20 other states in submitting a comment letter to the EPA that called on the agency to reconsider the SAFE Vehicles Rule. “It is time for Washington to step up to combat climate change, not fall down on the job,’’ Grewal said. ‘’Unfortunately, EPA is relying on flawed science and flawed policy to cut back on our country’s clean car rules.”

Emissions regulations are poised to be a key regulatory issue in 2019 and beyond. The attorneys of the Scarinci Hollenbeck Environmental Law Group will continue to monitor the proposed environmental regulations, as well as the related legal challenges.

If you have any questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Hunain Sarwar, at 201-806-3364.