Under guidance of a federal mandate, the EPA recently issued upgraded fuel efficiency standards for commercial class trucks. Smaller and regional carriers have decided that the new standards are simply too much cost to bear and that big government is favoring big carriers. They believe the move is unconstitutional, and a challenge to free trade markets. The interest group called Pacific Legal Foundation has begun a class action lawsuit on behalf of the carriers in California courts. They cite anti-competition and some other technicalities in their suite. Does their claim hold any water?
An independent political media watchdog group called Media Matters for America says the narratives being used against the regulations are distorting the actual costs and some of the guidelines themselves. Here’s a couple of examples:
News analyst Claudia Cowan has repeatedly stated that the EPA fuel standards will require truck owners to retrofit their trucks with new equipment, or simply give them up and pay for a new truck. In statements released prior, the EPA stated that this simply isn’t the case and the ruling doesn’t affect Class 8 trucks now on the road.
“No truckers will need to upgrade or buy a new truck under the new medium- and heavy-duty fuel efficiency rule – the rule only applies to manufacturers, and only to trucks produced in manufacturing year 2014 and later. It in no way affects the trucks currently owned and operated. The standards are voluntary for production years 2014 and 2015 and will be mandatory beginning in the year 2016.”
ATA CEO Bill Graves, a former conservative governor of Kansas, goes on to cite that the new standards will actually save truckers and fleet managers more than $70,000 per truck over the course of its service life. He states, “We believe that there is a return on investment in this rule for our fleets in that over the course of perhaps 18 to 24 months they’re going to recover whatever cost is associated with this new fuel efficient equipment.” An NHTSA press release follows with, “The standards are expected to yield an estimated $50 billion in net benefits over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles.”
Pacific Legal Foundation’s class action lawsuit is disputing the validity of the fuel efficiency standards and claim that the EPA circumvented normal procedure to ram through the new ruling, bypassing independent scientific review. Responding to comments from the Pacific Legal Foundation, the EPA said it “made the proposed rule and underlying support documents accessible and obtainable by publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register, and by posting all of the scientific and technical support documents on the web.” They stated that despite there being no actual requirement of independent scientific review of new proposed standards, they made the information available anyway.
This certainly won’t be the last we’ll hear about the new EPA fuel efficiency standards, but we are concerned about who is trying to misinform truck drivers. Is it the EPA? Is it the ATA? Is it independent media analysts? We’ll continue to watch more developments and report on them as they come. Meanwhile, try and keep yourself informed truckers!