New Legal Challenges Provoke Review of 2011 Trucking Emissions Standards

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

Recently, a California construction company, along with the California Construction Trucking Association, brought a legal claim seeking review of the 2011 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles. The company and the CCTA claimed that the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency caused unacceptable cost increases that affected their ability to conduct business on the West Coast. The appeals court dismissed the case. Meanwhile, the Environmental Defense Fund has taken aim at emissions standards, insisting that tighter restrictions will lead to more money in the average consumer’s pocket. But what exactly are these standards? Attention drawn to emissions issues invites a review of the 2011 regulations, how they were determined, and the responsibilities they gave to businesses.

Overview

The 2011 Emissions Standards was produced by the Environmental Protection Agency in conjunction with the Department of Transportation. The goal of the regulations was to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 300 million metric tons and save over 500 million barrels of oil in just 4 years, while still providing a significant amount in net societal benefits. The rules encompass over 400 pages and can be found in their full text on the U.S. Government Publishing Office’s website. The document is divided into 11 sections, covering the standards themselves, estimated economic and environmental impacts, analysis of possible alternatives to the regulations set, information on affected vehicles, and other topics. Needless to say, the average vehicle operator and even the average business owner likely have not read the law cover-to-cover.

How Regulations Were Set

The EPA used a Greenhouse gas Emissions Model (GEM) to designate emissions restrictions for various types of vehicles. The GEM inputs variables including values based on the vehicles’ weights, intended purposes, and other characteristics into an equation in order to yield numerical standards for gas emissions. The EPA divided vehicles into eight classifications and applied the GEM accordingly to get emissions maximums as well as to establish which vehicles were eligible to use CO2 credits to meet standards for other gas emissions.

Business Owners’ Responsibilities

As mentioned above, the full text of the law covers hundreds of pages, as well as dozens of topics, types of greenhouse and non-greenhouse gases, and vehicles. It would seem that even the most diligent of transportation business owners could not be blamed for failing to peruse the document fully. However, business owners are required to ensure that vehicles are compliant with the EPA regulations and are up-to-date on requirements. For many owners, this could involve juggling several criteria for many different vehicles, each of which could have different standards multiplied over a variety of individual gases. Making a mistake could cost time, money, or even the business itself.

With regulations lists the size of novels and new amendments and challenges appearing daily, it takes experts to stay on top of the latest government requirements. Anderson and Yamada, P.C. is one of the few law firms focusing on trucking and transportation law and its many requirements. Contact us today to ensure you stay on top of the regulations, not buried beneath them.