US transport group slams new EPA heavy-duty truck rule

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by Emily Atkins

Clean Freight Coalition Executive Director Jim Mullen issued the following statement on behalf of the Coalition regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s final Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations for Heavy-Duty Vehicles-Phase 3 rule:

The members of the Clean Freight Coalition have a long history of collaborating with federal regulators on sound regulations that support environmental improvements at the right speed.

However, our members oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s final Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations for Heavy-Duty Vehicles-Phase 3 rule – a regulation that will require the adoption of zero-emissions commercial vehicles at a pace that isn’t possible due to the limits of today’s technology.

Today, these vehicles fail to meet the operational demands of many motor carrier applications, reduce the payload of trucks and thereby require more trucks to haul the same amount of freight, and lack sufficient charging and alternative fueling infrastructure to support adoption. In addition, battery electric motorcoaches have a reduced range and capacity compared to diesel buses. These commercial vehicles are in their infancy and are just now being tested and validated with real world-miles.

The GHG Phase 3 rule will have detrimental ramifications to the commercial vehicle industry, many small and large businesses, commercial vehicle dealers and their customers. A recent study contracted by the CFC demonstrated that fully electrifying the nation’s medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles will cost motor carriers $620 billion in charging infrastructure alone. That does not include the vehicle cost which increases by 2-3 times compared to a diesel truck. For example, today’s diesel class 8 truck costs roughly $180,000 compared to an electric truck’s price tag of $400,000, and for motorcoaches, today’s diesel costs $600,000 compared to $1.5 million for battery electric – costs that will ultimately be borne on the backs of consumers.

On top of the costs to the truck and bus industries, utilities and the government will need to invest $370 billion to upgrade their networks and the power grid to meet the demands of the commercial vehicle industry alone, putting the price tag for an electric supply chain at nearly $1 trillion before one battery-electric commercial vehicle is purchased.

Rather than mandating a new technology that carries with it exorbitant costs and operational concerns, policymakers should support lower carbon alternatives to diesel fuel that are currently commercially viable (such as biodiesel and renewable diesel). These lower carbon fuels will allow EPA to make progress on emissions today, while the industry implements longer-term options. Mandating a transition to technology that is decades away from being viable at scale will keep older, less environmentally friendly commercial vehicles on the road longer, stunting the carbon reduction progress EPA seeks.

The CFC supports sound policies which promote the sustainable and affordable transition to zero emission commercial vehicles, embraces any powertrain to reach these goals, and protects the integrity of the nation’s supply chain. The Phase 3 GHG rule fails to meet that standard.

The Clean Freight Coalition is an alliance of associations comprising motor carriers of every size and sector, truck dealers, truck stop operators and the bus industry.