Obama takes aim at large truck industry with new CO2 regulations

tractor trailer truckThe Wall Street Journal is reporting today that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be issuing new carbon dioxide-reduction rules next week, putting an expensive bullseye on the large truck industry. With roughly 19 months left in office, Obama’s far-reaching climate plan is coming to fruition and he’s not letting congress get in his way. The new rules targeting large trucks, like tractor trailers, buses, and delivery trucks, are part of a an “ambitious climate agenda” that Obama hopes will cement his environmental legacy.

First reported in late May by the NY Times, the EPA’s new regulations would require heavy-duty trucks to increase their fuel economy “by 40 percent by 2027.” The new rules, which would affect any vehicle “larger than a standard pickup,” would seek to raise the current five to six miles per gallon of fuel “to as much as nine miles a gallon.” Trucking is still the best, most efficient method for transporting foodstuffs and non-organic materials across the country, and according to industry experts, the additional costs being imposed by the EPA would be passed on to consumers. Even Obama admits that nearly “70 percent of all domestic freight” is transported by truck, according to a speech he gave last year.

Only yesterday, the EPA issued new proposals declaring that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from airliners threaten public health as they contribute to global warming. Indeed, only 2% of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions come from the aviation sector. Interestingly, this comes on the heels of the recent news that there has been no statistical warming for nearly 19 years based on satellite temperature measurements. Both the military and small aircraft would be exempt from these new proposals.

The EPA also issued proposed rules for power plants that would take effect late this summer, which prompted a lawsuit by numerous states and one coal company. A federal appeals court dismissed the lawsuit, saying they didn’t have the authority to “review the legality of a proposed rule,” but the Court could make a decision once the proposal was “final and in place.” The proposed power-plant rules require substantial investments by the states and energy companies to meet the new targets, which they had hoped the Court would find onerous.

In a few weeks, the EPA will then target reducing the emissions of methane, considered a greenhouse gas that has 34 times the effect on temperature than CO2 emissions. The methane-reduction rules will target oil and natural-gas operations, and by August it will have finished a “regulatory suite” of rules targeting all emissions from power plants. Mike Volkov, who leads a boutique law firm focusing on compliance, told the Wall Street Journal that the EPA “has a broad agenda” and has been “emboldened lately” by recent court victories. This has prompted the EPA to “push out as many regulations as possible” by trying to link global warming to public health.

Combined, the EPA’s new regulations will negatively influence every industrial sector in the country. Analysts and industry experts expect costs to rise on electricity, gasoline, diesel, airline fees, or anything that relies on fossil fuels. Recently dubbed a “climate denier” in a NY Times op-ed written by top environmentalist Bill McKibben, greenies are now cheering the president’s efforts as his second term nears its end. Volkov said, “Regulatory risks are multiplying exponentially as the EPA releases more and more regulations in a rush to complete its agenda before the end of the Obama administration.”

All these draft rules for regulating CO2 emissions under the tissue-thin guise of public health will be litigated by industry and, pending the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, likely rescinded if a Republican retakes control of the White House. Some proposed regulations are still in draft form and won’t be ready until 2017, and not completed until at least 2018, long after Obama has left office. According to Volkov, the EPA is relying on the recent uptick in economic growth after years of high employment and stagnant growth “to provide greater political cover.”

One option that tractor-trailer truck owners have is retrofitting their engines to run on natural gas (also a fossil fuel), which the United Parcel Service did with some of their trucks. Public transportation also uses compressed natural gas in some of their fleets as they emit less CO2 than gasoline or diesel. Other options include biodiesel or bio-fuels, which environmentalists decry as being even more Earth unfriendly than fossil fuels. As with all proposed regulations, the EPA will have a 60-day public comment period, though this is more pro forma as majority comments not in favor of certain regulations are largely ignored.

Sen. James Inhofe (R), who received an award at the Heartland Institute’s 10th International Conference on Climate Change, told attendees “we are winning” the global warming debate. “They’ve lost the battle on getting legislation passed.” Michael Bastasch, a reporter for the Daily Caller, writes “The conservative group presented Inhofe with an award for standing up to political pressure from both sides of the aisle to give the federal government the power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.” It seems Inhofe has a lot of work ahead of him, at least until 2017.