Comment period extended on proposed truck emissions, fuel economy reg

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor

Responding directly to a request and concerns aired by OOIDA and others including some manufacturers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have agreed to extend through Oct. 1 the agencies’ comment period on their joint proposal to regulate truck emissions and fuel economy.

The initial comment period was to last through Sept. 17. The agencies notified OOIDA of the extra two weeks by letter, dated Monday, Aug. 31.

The proposal, known as greenhouse gas Phase 2, or GHG Phase 2, stands to regulate just about every aspect of truck, trailer and tire design, from aerodynamics and rolling resistance to engine output and key-off technologies. The proposal is built on somewhat of an “a la carte” menu of options that manufacturers can choose from to meet desired gains for lower carbon emissions and increased fuel economy in heavy trucks.

The agencies have held two official public hearings and one additional meeting geared to the input of small-business truckers on the proposal. At each of those meetings, and in writing, OOIDA has insisted that more time be provided for the Association and others to process the proposal so that the interests and bottom lines of small-business truckers are represented.

OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth attended meetings and spoke on behalf of truckers. He is named in the agencies’ response.

“In your letter and in Scott Grenerth’s testimony at the Aug. 6, 2015 public hearing, you requested additional time to review and provide substantive comment on the Heavy-Duty Phase 2 Rules. We also received similar requests,” EPA and NHTSA officials stated in their response letter.

“EPA and NHTSA are responding to these requests for extension of the comment period for the joint proposed rules by extending the comment period to October 1, 2015.”

Grenerth says that an extension is necessary, given the 1,300-plus pages of proposal and supporting documents published by the agencies in their effort to regulate trucks, trailers, tires, engines, exhaust systems – and even glider kits – through model year 2027.

“A two week extension is not a game-changer,” Grenerth told Land Line Magazine. “But it is an opportunity we must utilize. With over 20,000 comments submitted to the docket already, we can be assured they are not all by people who have carefully analyzed all the data in the massive proposed rule. Truckers must speak up and share their experiences with previous rulemakings. They must insist that the agencies use accurate information for cost-benefit analysis.”

The proposed GHG Phase 2 standards would add, according to agency estimates, $10,000 to $13,000 to the price of new trucks.

OOIDA has questioned EPA cost estimates during previous proposals and final rules for emissions, and is in contact with manufacturers and other groups to independently analyze and verify cost-benefits to truck buyers who are the end users.

Grenerth points out that EPA and NHTSA estimate an auxiliary power unit, or APU, to average about $4,800. By experience, OOIDA and truckers say that price would be more like $9,000 to $12,000 installed.

Learn more about the GHG Phase 2 proposal here. The link includes instructions on how to comment.

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Texas law in effect Sept. 1 sets felony cargo theft rule

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

Cargo thieves in Texas are on notice.

A new law in effect Tuesday, Sept. 1, establishes the theft of truck, rail or container cargo as a specific offense and imposes escalating fines and punishment based on the value of the goods.

Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, has said that cargo theft by organized crime rings has become a very serious problem in the state, as well as nationwide. She put the losses to the state at $23 million between 2012 and 2014.

Zaffirini told lawmakers earlier this year that cargo theft is a growing problem nationwide accounting for an estimated loss of $10 billion to $25 billion per year.

According to FreightWatch International, in 2013 Texas ranked behind only California in the number of cargo thefts. Florida, Georgia and Illinois rounded out the top five.

The new law authorizes felony charges for offenders, which range from six months behind bars for loads valued at a minimum of $1,500 to as much as life in prison for loads valued at more than $200,000. Any damage to the truck or trailer would also be included in the value of the load.

Offenders are defined as anyone who “knowingly or intentionally conducts, promotes or facilitates an activity” involving the receipt, possession, concealment, storage, barter, sale, abandonment or disposal of stolen cargo.

Texas joins Georgia in adopting rules that make cargo theft a specific crime with stiff punishment for offenders.

Another new law in effect Tuesday adds four routes to the oversize/overweight vehicle corridor for which the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority is authorized to issue permits.

Roadways affected are FM (Farm-to-Market) 1015 between U.S. 81 and U.S. 83 Business; U.S. 83 Business between FM 1015 and South Pleasantview Drive; FM 1015 between U.S. 83 Business and Mile 9 Road North; and Mile 9 Road North between FM 1015 and Joe Stephens Ave.

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