Sign on by FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 by close of business.
September X, 2022
On behalf of our millions of supporters, we write in response to the letter submitted on July 11, 2022, addressing EPA’s proposed rule on “Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicles Standards” (Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-QAR-2019-0055). The letter expressed reservations about EPA’s proposed Option 1. We wish to assuage those concerns and emphasize why EPA’s final rule should strengthen and exceed Option 1.
The Importance of a Strengthened Option 1
EPA must finalize the strongest possible rule to address climate and air pollution impacts caused by heavy-duty trucks. Heavy-duty vehicles make up 10 percent of U.S. on-road vehicles, but contribute 45 percent of the transportation sector’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, 57 percent of its fine particulate matter (PM) pollution, and 28 percent of the sector’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 40 percent of U.S. ports and other freight facilities are in areas failing to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone and particulate matter. This is concerning, as 72 million people live within 200 meters of a truck freight route, and are disproportionately people of color and lower income. A stringent Option 1 would create significant public health and environmental impacts needed.
EPA’s proposed Option 1 builds on the success of the Low-NOx Heavy Duty Omnibus (HDO) rule, which has already been adopted by California, Oregon, and Massachusetts, and is under consideration in other states. This option would implement NOx standards in two steps, starting in 2027 and align with some state actions after an additional step up in stringency in 2031. Under Option 1, the expectation is that by 2031, NOx standards would be 90 percent lower than today’s standards. EPA estimates this would achieve a 60 percent reduction in harmful NOx emissions, compared to the weaker Option 2 only achieving 47 percent reduction. Finalizing an enhanced version of Option 1 that occurs on a condensed timeline is critical for freight-impacted communities, given the urgency of the issue.
Need to Take a Consensus-based Approach
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to set “standards which reflect the greatest degree of emission reduction achievable through the application of technology which the Administrator determines will be available for the model year to which such standards apply.” It also requires the agency to give “appropriate consideration” to costs and other factors. Following three days of public hearings and a public comment period on this proposal, diverse stakeholders have demonstrated overwhelming support for EPA to at a minimum adopt Option 1, if not a more stringent final rule. These stakeholders included health advocates, community groups, scientists, the business community, emission control manufacturers, state and local elected officials, and even engine manufacturers.
Feasibility of the Standards
Option 1 does not require reinventing emission control systems for internal combustion engines according to extensive multi-year research, testing, and stakeholder engagement from California regulators which concluded meeting a 0.02 g/bhp-hr NOx standard by 2027 is feasible and cost-effective. In addition, Ford, a major truck manufacturer, publicly stated they can meet the standard. Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA) also publicly affirmed Option 1’s feasibility. Meanwhile, other manufacturers are acquiring emission control companies capable of meeting the stronger state standards. A strengthened Option 1 also includes compliance flexibilities to ensure manufacturers are able to meet the standard, incentivize ZEV deployment, and maximize emission reductions.
Unintended Consequences: Diversion of Investment and Labor Concerns
Meeting stringent combustion engine pollution standards and deploying ZEVs are not mutually exclusive, yet there are manufacturers fighting strong standards to “avoid a diversion of investment” from electrification efforts, while publicly announcing advances in zero-emissions technology and significant investments in truck charging networks. In addition, significant investments are available to support them from the recently passed Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Manufacturers have cited concerns on costs, pointing to an unverifiable survey conducted with inflated projections and an industry-funded report lacking peer review. In contrast, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), MECA, and EPA, have published lab testing-backed cost projections that are significantly less than the industry survey.
Industry also argues that these standards come at a cost, causing fleet managers to stock up on older truck models before the new standard comes into effect (“pre-buy”), resulting in a decrease in sales after the standard begins (“no-buy” or “low-buy”). A small group of manufacturers claim these standards will result in job cuts like previous heavy-duty emission standards. However, EPA issued a report in 2021 concluding that larger economic forces–not emissions standards–have been primary drivers of past declines in heavy-duty truck sales, and showed how critics conflate correlation with causation.
EPA must quickly and effectively address greenhouse gas and air pollution from heavy-duty trucks, and the best way to achieve this is by strengthening Option 1. We hope to have your support and we look forward to continuing discussions on the best pathways to reduce emissions in affected communities and growing manufacturing jobs in this sector.