The U.S. took a step closer to a zero-emissions future Tuesday when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its strongest-ever clean air standards for heavy-duty trucks.
The standards—which apply to vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds and begin with model year 2027—aim to reduce nitric oxide pollution, smog, and soot. They are the first new rules for the heavy-duty truck category in more than 20 years, and are more than 80% stricter than previous rules, according to the EPA.
The announcement is the first of three actions being taken under the EPA’s Clean Trucks Plan. Next steps include proposed “Phase 3” greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for heavy-duty vehicles beginning in 2027, as well as proposed multi pollutant standards for light- and medium-duty vehicles beginning in model year 2027, according to the EPA.
The additional rules will take into account the recent Inflation Reduction Act as well as the 2022 Infrastructure Law, which are expected to increase adoption of zero-emission vehicles, including electric cars and trucks.
“Taken together, these rulemakings will put in place stringent long-term standards that will reduce dangerous smog, soot, and climate pollution from heavy-duty vehicles,” according to an EPA statement.
Industry reaction was mixed Tuesday.
Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said the new measures will negatively affect independent drivers and small businesses who will find it difficult to upgrade to newer, compliant vehicles.
“If small business truckers can’t afford the new, compliant trucks, they’re going to stay with older, less efficient trucks, or leave the industry entirely,” Spencer said in a prepared statement. “Once again, EPA has largely ignored the warnings and concerns raised by truckers in this latest rule.”
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said it is reviewing the standard and assessing its impact on members.
“While truck engine emission standards are directed at manufacturers, it is the purchasing decisions of fleets that ultimately determine their success or failure,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement Tuesday. “Since 1988, the trucking industry has cut [nitric oxide] emissions by more than 98%—demonstrating our commitment to protecting the environment. Continued progress on this front will depend on standards that are technologically feasible with equipment that is cost-permitting and reliable for fleets.”