Court Puts Greenhouse Gas Phase 2 on Hold for Trailers

A federal court has ruled to indefinitely put on hold the implementation date for trailers under the federal government’s heavy-duty truck fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards (GHG2). Whether the decision to stay the Jan. 1, 2018 deadline eases or compounds uncertainty for trailer manufacturers and freight carriers remains to be seen.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 granted the stay, as requested by the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) in its petition for a of review the trailer component of GHG 2, a plan implemented by the Obama administration in 2016 that, as designed, would reduce carbon emissions by more than a billion metric tons through 2027.

For the first time, trailers were included in the emissions program as an integral part of the vehicle. The rule would require new trailers to be equipped with aerodynamic devices, fuel efficient tires, and other technologies to improve the overall fuel efficiency of the combination vehicle.

TTMA, however, has argued that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t have the authority to regulate trailers under the Clean Air Act, while also taking issue with a number of the assumptions EPA used to justify the regulation.

In August, the EPA announced that the government would “reconsider” portions of GHG 2 that pertain to trailers and truck glider equipment.  A week ago, the Office of Management and Budget posted notice that it had received from EPA a draft Proposed Rule that would repeal the GHG 2 emission requirements for glider vehicles, glider engines, and glider kits.

While the text of the repeal will not be available until the OMB review is complete and EPA moves forward with the rulemaking, TTMA anticipates the review will be handled quickly, given the GHG 2 implementation schedule.

Some environmental groups, however, have criticized the Trump administration’s EPA for backing away from GHG 2. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) called the decision to reconsider the rule ‘a highly unusual action that emerged publicly at the 11th hour.’

The court’s grant of a stay pending judicial review will not affect other provisions of the truck standards.