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August 10, 2018 2:30 PM, EDT
Trailer Makers Seek Timeline for Review of Phase 2 GHG Rule
Trailer John Sommers II for Transport Topics

A trailer makers group is asking a federal appeals court to require that two federal agencies state when they plan to make a final decision on a 2016 Obama-era heavy-truck greenhouse gas rule. Whether revised or kept in place, the rule would regulate trailers for the first time.

The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association claims that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration essentially have been keeping them in the dark for the past year on how soon they plan to complete their review of the trailer mandate.

“If the agencies are unable to commit to either issuing a new proposed rule or announcing that they intend to retain the current final rule within the next 90 days, TTMA will con- sider moving this court to lift the abeyance and set a briefing schedule in this case,” the Aug. 6 court filing by TTMA said. 

TTMA Logo

The trailer association said it wants the agencies to provide a detailed status report or it will attempt to lift the court stay and proceed to trial.

Despite agreeing to put the lawsuit on hold, the trailer makers now say EPA and NHTSA “have sought repeated delays and abeyances.”

The agencies are co-authors of the Phase 2 rule.

The trailer association said all three of the status reports filed with the court by EPA and NHTSA “repeat the same language verbatim, except that they change the date for the next status report.”

“Counsel for TTMA have conferred with counsel for the agencies, but counsel for the agencies have not provided additional information concerning the status or timing of their decision-making process,” the trailer association’s motion said. “None of the status reports offer any information about the agencies’ progress; what if anything has been accomplished; or what if any schedule the agencies have in mind for completing their review or even completing any initial step in their review.”

Phase 1 on GHG emissions began in 2014 and was tightened in January 2016. Trailer rules were new for Phase 2, as the earlier rule dealt only with trucks and their engines.

Trailer manufacturers have criticized the Phase 2 rule, and in December 2016, TTMA filed the request for review of the rule with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In a move to respond to concerns by the trailer and glider truck industry, EPA announced in August 2017 that it planned to “revisit” its Phase 2 provisions on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency for medium- and heavy-duty engines.

“TTMA would prefer to resolve this matter without litigation. Its members should not have to wait in an indefinite holding pattern without any indication from EPA as to when and whether it intends to announce a reconsideration of the rule,” the trailer makers’ motion said.

Attorneys for EPA have argued that it’s possible the agency’s administrative proceedings “could obviate the need for judicial resolution of some or all of the issues raised by trailer petitioner.”

For that reason, they have advocated that the case be “put on the shelf” with status reports every 90 days.

In its most recent report to the court, EPA said it is “working to develop a proposed rule to revisit the rule’s trailer provisions.”

“NHTSA continues to assess next steps after granting trailer petitioner’s request for rulemaking. Respondents will submit their next 90-day status report on Oct. 22,” NHTSA said.

Before the court stay, the Phase 2 rule was to start EPA regulation of trailers Jan. 1, 2018. Under the Phase 2 rule, provisions for trucks will go into effect in three stages: 2021, 2024 and 2027.

The rule also requires low- rolling-resistance tires and automatic tire inflation or tire monitoring systems for all trailers.