Court Grants Trailer Industry Request to Stay EPA’s Aerodynamic and Other Improvements for Freight Trailers

On October 27th, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA)’s request to provisionally stay standards providing for improvements in the aerodynamics of freight trailers, safeguards that will reduce dangerous climate pollution while saving money for the trucking industry and American families alike. In a highly unusual action that emerged publicly at the 11th hour, EPA declined to defend the standards against TTMA’s stay motion. These vital clean air standards also include separate greenhouse gas limits for freight engines which remain in full force and effect.

“We are disappointed that the court allowed a delay of these important climate and public health safeguards that save truckers and families hard earned money,” said EDF General Counsel Vickie Patton. “Importantly, the EPA’s vital limits on climate pollution from freight truck engines, a major and rapidly growing source of pollution, remain in full force and effect.”

In late September, TTMA had asked the court for a stay of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s standards to improve aerodynamics and other aspects of freight trailers. The EPA standards were based on industry best practices demonstrated in EPA’s collaborative SmartWay Program.

At the 11th hour in the litigation, EPA declined to defend its own clean air standards. This is highly unusual.

Moreover, TTMA and its members made claims to the court that are in conflict with statements the same trailer manufacturers have also recently made to their investors, in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and to the press.  To the court, TTMA asserted, “TTMA’s members will lose sales and customers, and the problem is happening now.” (Motion at 13 link) But to the press, the industry has told a different story, saying, for example, “Steady new orders are being placed for 2018. Dry vans, reefers and flats are all being ordered.”

In its most recent filing with the SEC, a publicly-traded trailer manufacturer noted, “The demand environment for trailers remained strong through the first six months of 2017, as evidenced by our strong backlog, a trailer demand forecast by industry forecasters above replacement demand levels for the next several years, and our ability to maintain strong margins.” And to investors, the manufacturer recently said: “[s]trong demand above replacement levels [is] forecast for [the] next 5 years” identifying “[f]leet equipment dynamics and regulations [as] key drivers of trailer demand.”

EDF and numerous allies opposed TTMA’s request, as did the California Air Resources Board and seven states – Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The court’s grant of a stay pending judicial review will not affect other provisions of the Clean Truck Standards, which cover vans, garbage trucks, and other large vehicles. It also does not affect EPA’s landmark greenhouse gas limits on the large engines that power freight trucks, a major and rapidly growing source of climate pollution.

California’s well designed standards improving the aerodynamics of freight trailers, adopted in 2007, remain in full force and effect and demonstrate the benefits of common sense state action.

EPA and the Department of Transportation adopted the Clean Truck Standards in August 2016, after extensive public comment and engagement with businesses. The standards will reduce carbon pollution by more than one billion metric tons while also saving the trucking industry an estimated $170 billion in fuel costs through 2027, providing $400 in annual household savings for the average American family by 2035, and reducing petroleum consumption by two billion barrels over the lifetime of our heavy-duty trucks.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has also announced that EPA will reconsider the freight trailer standards through a notice and comment rulemaking process. EDF will vigorously oppose any weakening of these clean air safeguards.

You can find more information, including all the legal documents in the case, on EDF’s website.

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