The hidden side of politics

Biden’s EPA tees up rules to make America’s trucking fleet go electric starting in 2027

Reported by Washington Times:

The Biden administration on Friday released final emission rules to force the nation’s fleet of heavy-duty vehicles such as buses and semi-trucks to begin going electric starting in 2027.

The regulations come on the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency wanting to phase out up to 67% of new gas-powered passenger cars by 2032 with predominantly all-electric and some hybrid-electric models.

The policies are part of President Biden’s ambitious green energy agenda to combat climate change by mandating the transportation sector cut back on carbon dioxide emissions. 

The difference for the heavy-duty vehicles, however, is Mr.  Biden’s team does not know how many they want to be EV or gas-powered. They say the rules are too complex, and that it’s up to trucker manufacturers and drivers to comply with the standards that will apply for model years 2027-2032.

Under proposed rules submitted last year, the EPA said 25% of new semi-trucks or similar vehicles would need to be some form of electric by 2032.

Pressed by reporters on a conference call, EPA Administrator Michael Regan and White House Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi waffled on the thresholds that truckers will soon need to meet.

“This is one of the strengths of this rule. This is a very complicated rule,” Mr. Regan told reporters. “This is the type of endeavor that you take to look across multiple classes of vehicles at the same time for this industry so that they can make the proper investment strategies, and giving this industry the flexibility to choose from a combination of options is what leads to our ability to set such a stringent environmental goal.”

Although growing in popularity, electric trucks account for a fraction of the market.

Of the more than 12 million trucks on America’s roads, the Environmental Defense Fund estimates there are less than 13,000 electric trucks, which range from delivery vans to tractor-trailers. Many of them, around 10,000, were only added last year. That’s roughly 0.12% of the industry currently meeting the administration’s objective.

Senior administration officials said that across the eight different technical classes of heavy-duty vehicles that the rules cover, they wanted zero-emission vehicles to range from 0 to 15% at the low end to north of 40% or 50% at the high end by 2032. That would translate to around 30% for “heavy heavy-duty vocational” trucks and 40% for short-haul “day cabs,” per officials. 

The various zero-emission vehicles include gas-powered trucks, hybrids, plug-in hybrid electrics, battery electrics and hydrogen fuel cells. It applies to delivery trucks, refuse haulers, public utility trucks, and transit, shuttle, and school buses.

Current electric trucks on the road are primarily delivery vans on local routes, such as those used by Amazon that go roughly 250 miles on a charge. It’s the long-haul truckers that have the industry worried. Roughly half of trips made by trucks are more than 500 miles, and 25% are over 1,000 miles, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).

The nation’s leading industry lobbying group, OOIDA blasted the Biden administration for ignoring the reality that expensive electric big rigs will require more time-consuming trips and result in higher prices for consumers to receive everyday goods.

“This administration seems dead set on regulating every local mom-and-pop business out of existence with its flurry of unworkable environmental mandates,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “This administration seems more focused on placating extreme environmental activists who have never been inside a truck than the small business truckers who ensure that Americans have food in their grocery stores and clothes on their backs.”

Mr. Regan downplayed concerns levied by truckers, including that drivers would keep older gas-powered models for longer before purchasing EV trucks and thereby run counter to Mr. Biden’s goals.

“While I know a simplistic message might be easiest for readers, the takeaway here is giving the industry flexibility and choice gave the EPA the ability to set the most stringent standard in history,” Mr. Regan said. “And we know that the industry can meet that goal.”

EPA projections show it will take two to four years to recoup additional costs from the purchase of electric trucks and charging equipment, after including tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act. For larger trucks with sleeper cabs, it will take five years.  

As with the EV mandate for passenger cars, the new regulations are likely to face legal scrutiny from opponents, and congressional Republicans will try and overturn them.

“This is yet another example of the Biden administration‘s whole-of-government effort to eliminate choices for American consumers, businesses and industries,” the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel & Petroleum Manufacturers said in a joint statement. “This misguided rule should be overturned by Congress, but short of that, our organizations are prepared to explore challenges in court.” 

Republicans, led by Sens. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Reps. John James of Michigan and Russ Fulcher of Indiana will lead legislation to roll back the policies.

Source:Washington Times