The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted in favor of overturning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules aimed at reducing smog and soot emissions from heavy-duty trucks. The vote, with a tally of 221 to 203, signals opposition to the regulations that were finalized in December. However, the White House has stated that President Joe Biden would veto the measure once it reaches his desk, as it believes the EPA rules are essential for cutting pollution, improving public health, and advancing environmental justice.
Republicans who oppose the rules argue that they are excessively challenging to implement, leading to increased costs in the supply chain and making trucks unaffordable for small business owners. Republican Senator Deb Fischer emphasized that the rule’s effects and price increases would impact every American consumer. Conversely, Democratic Representative Frank Pallone expressed concerns over the dire consequences the Republican bill could have on the EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission of safeguarding public health and welfare from harmful pollution.
The EPA’s new standards, which represent the first update to clean air standards for heavy-duty trucks in over two decades, impose increasingly stringent emissions limits each year. These regulations are approximately 80% stricter than the existing standards. The EPA estimates that by 2045, the rule will lead to a reduction of up to 2,900 premature deaths annually, 1.1 million fewer lost school days for children, and generate $29 billion in net annual benefits.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan stressed the significance of these regulations in protecting the health of the approximately 72 million individuals residing near truck freight routes across the United States. He explained that the rules aim to address this issue, emphasizing their importance during an interview with Reuters in December.
In April, the EPA also introduced proposals for further pollution reductions in larger vehicles. The proposal suggests that by 2032, around 50% of buses and garbage trucks could be electric vehicles (EVs), along with 35% of new short-haul freight tractors and 25% of new long-haul freight tractors. Additionally, the rules for medium-duty vehicles are expected to reduce emissions by 44% by 2032 compared to the 2026 standards. These initiatives reflect the EPA’s ongoing efforts to combat pollution and promote the adoption of cleaner transportation options.