The two federal agencies that proposed the first fuel efficiency and emission rules for the trucking industry got some backing from truck fleet groups at a public hearing in Chicago along with concerns over possible side effects.
Randy Thomas, speaking on behalf of the Illinois Trucking Association and the American Trucking Associations, praised regulators for offering a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from trucks by using methods the industry was already promoting. Those trade groups represent companies that operate cargo fleets.
But Thomas said "some fleets have expressed concern that manufacturers might discontinue sales of specific engine or vehicle subcategories that fleets are accustomed to purchasing." Industry officials also question whether deployment of more fuel-efficient tires might mean the trucks using them would take longer to brake on slick surfaces. "We trust that both agencies will explore these two areas of concern further to ensure we avoid any such unintended consequences," he said.
The Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last month offered a detailed proposal that would begin taking effect in 2014, putting truck makers and customers on an aggressive schedule to get ready. The agencies say the rules allow the industry to use existing technologies to comply, and will generate large savings in costs for diesel fuel that will far outweigh the extra costs of new equipment.
Although independent truckers have yet to weigh in through their trade group, some are already voicing concerns over those initial costs. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association plans to file comments after the agencies publish their draft regulation in the Federal Register, which starts a 60-day public comment period.
However, regulators this week held the first public hearing in Chicago Nov. 15, and will hold a second Nov. 18 in Cambridge, Mass.
Thomas said the fleet industry groups were glad to see the federal agencies embrace some ideas the ATA was already recommending. Those include reducing greenhouse emissions and fuel burn through efficiency standards "that are both economically and technologically feasible," and allow use of off-the-shelf technologies that some fleets already employ in the EPA's SmartWay program.
The Massachusetts Motor Transportation Association and the ATA plan to submit written comments to the agencies before the Nov. 18 hearing.
The rules would not only apply to long-distance trucks and regional cargo trucks, but to vocational trucks, delivery vans and heavy-use pickups.
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