Small-Business Truck Owners Sue Biden Administration

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Small-business truck owners have taken legal action against the Biden administration’s new zero-emissions heavy-duty vehicle standards, arguing that the costs of compliance would drive them out of business.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday. They are challenging the final rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April. The National Corn Growers Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation have joined them, requesting the court to overturn the EPA’s rule, claiming it exceeds the agency’s legal authority and is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with the law.

OOIDA President Todd Spencer stated that small business truckers, who make up 96% of the trucking industry, could be regulated out of existence if the EPA’s heavy-duty vehicle rule is implemented. He argued that the rule would harm the reliability of America’s supply chain and increase costs for consumers. Small trucking businesses would struggle with the high costs and operational challenges posed by the mandate for zero-emission trucks.

The EPA’s “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3” rule targets truck model years 2027 through 2032 and covers various truck sizes, including delivery trucks, dump trucks, and long-haul sleeper-cab trucks.

For example, by model year 2032, 25% of long-haul tractors would need to be zero-emission. Although the rule does not specify a particular technology, the trucking industry views it as effectively mandating electric trucks, given the expected technological advancements by those years.

Currently, a new Class 8 diesel truck costs around $180,000, whereas a battery-electric truck can cost up to $400,000. The administration has claimed that federal subsidies will reduce these costs and help the industry adapt to the new requirements.

Opponents of the rule have until Friday, when the rule is set to take effect, to file a petition for reconsideration directly with the EPA. In addition to the court challenge, congressional Republicans have also introduced a joint resolution in the House and the Senate to roll back the rule. This legislation has yet to be reviewed by the relevant committees.

Beyond court challenges, petitions for reconsideration, and legislative efforts, a potential change in administration could be the most likely way to prevent the EPA’s rule from impacting the trucking industry. Former President Donald Trump, speaking at a private event in Washington last week, pledged to reverse Biden’s electric-vehicle climate policies if he wins the November election, according to Bloomberg.

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