EPA Rule for Trucks Would Cut Some Emissions by 90%

Environmental groups urge moving quickly toward 100%
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 7, 2022 7:20 PM CST
EPA Rule for Trucks Would Cut Some Emissions by 90%
Trucks are stopped at a gas station in Emerson, Ga., in 2014.   (AP Photo/David Tulis, File)

The Biden administration is proposing stronger pollution regulations for new tractor-trailer rigs that would clean up smoky diesel engines and encourage new technologies over the next two decades. The proposal released Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency would require the industry to cut smog- and soot-forming nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 90% per truck over current standards by 2031. The emissions can cause respiratory problems in humans. New rules would start in 2027 to limit the emissions from nearly 27 million heavy trucks and buses nationwide, the AP reports.

Although truck manufacturers are working on battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell powertrains, the EPA says the proposal is not a zero-emissions truck requirement. Rather, the agency says there are pollution control devices in development that can keep diesels in use and still clean the air. The EPA also is drawing up stronger limits for heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions. Current standards would be updated starting in 2027 and stronger new standards would begin in 2030. Requirements were last updated in 2001, with the next big step coming in 2024. The stronger new standards would not apply to old trucks, limiting the impact of the new rules.

Environmental groups praised the EPA's action, but many urged the administration to move quickly on the proposal and then go further toward requiring zero-emissions trucks. "We really need to be doing both of these things simultaneously," said Patricio Portillo of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Portillo said he was disappointed that the EPA didn't set requirements for hydrogen or electric truck sales as California and five other states now do. He said a 90% reduction sounds good but still leaves a lot of pollution in the air. "The only way to get that out is to get to zero emissions," he said. Truck engine makers and other industry groups raised concerns that the requirements may not be technically possible or could make trucks costly and unreliable. (The Postal Service said it can't afford an electric fleet.)

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