The Obama administration is letting trucking companies buy their way out of new climate rules, by simply paying a fine if they can’t comply.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation finalized the new joint greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency rules for big semi-truck haulers, vans and school buses on Tuesday.
Buried deep in the rules are changes to a complicated fining mechanism that the agency uses to continue progress when companies, for economic reasons, cannot comply.
The EPA finalized the rules as the last part of the administration’s climate change agenda, while admitting that the cost has jumped from what it was when proposed.
“There will be some escalation in cost, but it is with a long lead time and gradual and very short payback period,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in issuing the regulations Tuesday.
McCarthy’s hope is that by the time the rules are fully implemented in a decade, truck operators would have recouped the cost through the fuel savings from the highly efficient vehicles. The costs vary based on the type of truck and its size. But the price for a big-rig tractor trailer truck could climb by as much as $15,100 by the time the rules are fully implemented in 2027. That’s a jump of about $1,000 per truck from the original proposal that EPA issued last year.
Many large manufacturers and trucks fleet operators, such as engine maker Cummins and heavy-duty truck owners Waste Management and Pepsi Co., say they support the rules.
But there still is concern among truck retailers, who fear smaller companies could be hurt by the rules.
A spokesman for the American Truck Dealers, representing about 2,000 heavy-duty truck dealerships, told the Wall Street Journal that the group was still reading the rule but was “concerned with the possibility that compliance will prove too complex or expensive for the market [dealer customers] to accept without disruption.”