Court halts EPA rule regulating big trucks’ trailers

Court halts EPA rule regulating big trucks’ trailers
© Getty Images

A federal appeals court Friday halted implementation of a portion of an Obama administration regulation that set emissions-reduction standards for trucks’ trailers.

In a brief order regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that a trailer industry group “has satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review.”

At issue is a 2016 regulation that increased fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty trucks.

ADVERTISEMENT

For the first time, the EPA asserted authority to regulate the design of trailers. The trailers do not have engines, but their aerodynamics can significantly impact the efficiency of the truck-trailer combination.

The standards were due to take effect Jan. 1. The Trump administration is considering repealing the trailer portion of the rule, among other pieces.

The regulation as a whole was expected to cut 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and make trucks 25 percent more efficient, according to data from the Obama administration.

The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, which has an ongoing lawsuit against the regulation, asked the court in September to halt the trailer portion.

“The [Clean Air] Act only permits regulation of ‘new motor vehicles’ and ‘new motor vehicle engines.’ And the Act expressly defines the term ‘new motor vehicles’ to mean ‘self-propelled’ vehicles,” the group wrote to the court.

“Trailers are not self-propelled. They emit nothing, and they lack engines or any other means of propulsion. They can move only when pulled by a tractor or another heavy-duty truck.”

The Trump administration told the court it did not object to the trailer group’s request. But Democratic states and environmental groups did object and pleaded with the court not to intervene.

Under court rules, Friday’s action means that the judges believed, among other factors, that the regulation is likely to be struck down when the court considers it more thoroughly on the merits.

The judges have not yet scheduled oral arguments in the lawsuit.