Could Industry and Political Pushback Kill the EPA’s Electric Truck Plans?

The Biden administration is well known for its belief that electric cars are the answer to all problems. (Ring around your collar? Purchase an electric vehicle. Buy an EV. Buy an EV. Hair loss? You get the idea.) It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the government has decided the trucking industry is in dire need of a massive transition from diesel trucks to electric ones.

We reported last month that the Environmental Protection Agency was looking to follow California in declaring war against diesel vehicles. Many in the trucking sector expressed their disappointment at the time that the EPA allowed California to hold the nation hostage over overblown climate concerns.

Chris Spear of the American Trucking Associations said that by granting California’s waiver to its ‘advanced cleaner trucks’ rule the EPA was handing over control as a national regulatory agency. The EPA, in an attempt to appease a fringe environmental lobby that has never been satisfied, allowed California to implement these unworkable rules with unrealistic deadlines. This is not the United States of California.

In its proposal, the EPA proposes to tighten truck regulations starting with 2027, then even more restrictions in 2028 and even stricter regulations in 2032. The agency also wants to see all new trucks be zero-emissions vehicles (i.e. battery-powered), starting in 2045.

The trucking and logistics industry has been quick to condemn the EPA proposal. Freightwaves highlighted the potential harm that the electric truck mandate may cause to the industry.

Cost has been highlighted as a major impediment. The FreightWaves Report notes that a new all-electric truck costs more than $400,000, while a diesel truck is priced in the range of $150,000. The charging time is too long and this affects federal rules on hours of service. Batteries are heavy, which means that early adopters have a lower weight limit than other carriers.

The additional costs would be passed on to the consumer by trucking companies, suppliers, and even the long charging times and weight restrictions could cause further strains on the supply chain. One of the key factors is the fact that many states already have trouble keeping up with more electric vehicles. What would the switch to electric trucks mean for these power grids What would happen to the drivers if they switched?

Joe Rajkovacz is the director of government affairs at the Western States Trucking Association. He told FreightWaves that he was intrigued by the technology and wasn’t opposed to electric vehicles. “But to impose a requirement on a truck purchaser that could leave him stranded because there isn’t enough power in the grid to run his vehicle, doesn’t make any sense.”

Conservative Republicans and GOP lawmakers have also expressed their concerns.

Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas), chair of the subcommittee for energy policy and regulation affairs in the House Oversight Committee, said during a hearing on May 17 that “Republicans do not oppose EV.” The Biden administration is attempting to monopolize the auto industry and stifle consumer choice. They also want to determine which products are best for Americans by setting deadlines.

Chuck Edwards (R-N.C.) pointed out at the same hearing that the U.S. Supreme Court had “slapped down” the EPA last year in West Virginia v. EPA, for exceeding its authority when regulating power stations. “Isn’t EPA doing exactly the same thing with these proposed EV regulations?”

Steve Bradbury, of the Heritage Foundation, responded that the EPA plans to regulate trucks are “remarkably similar” with the overreach which led to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Bradbury added that “At stake are issues of life, freedom, and prosperity and they are fundamentally of a political nature.” It is precisely because, in our constitutional republic it is up to Congress to make these monumental decisions.

Democrats respond that the government’s tax breaks and handouts are enough to help the trucking sector switch to electric trucks. They believe handouts will solve all problems. Will this pressure from both the GOP and industry be enough to stop the proposal? They’ll do their best.