Let’s talk about truck pollution- POLITICO

Lyle Ellerbee

When it comes to slashing carbon pollution from the single largest source in the country — the transportation sector — the fight to watch is over the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to limit emissions from medium and heavy-duty trucks.

Heavy-duty trucks make up less than 10 percent of the nation’s vehicle fleet. But they spew a disproportionate amount of toxic pollutants in predominantly overburdened communities.

Yet after the Supreme Court blurred the lines of EPA’s authority last week, reining in truck emissions could be an even bigger haul than expected.

A Chicago-based group that represents the makers of internal combustion engines has complained that EPA’s proposal is technologically infeasible and could in essence force the industry to prematurely shift to electric trucks.

The group, the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, has already sued California over the state’s new emissions standard, which is tougher than the federal proposal.

An industry divided
But not all truck and engine makers are fully on board with that fight. They have collectively pumped billions of dollars into efforts needed to meet stricter emissions standards. And to them, the association’s opposition to toughened rules has a downside: regulatory uncertainty, endless litigation and the inevitability of tougher emissions standards over time.

The latest effort to sue California, a national trendsetter on auto emissions, divided the association’s members. The engine maker Cummins recently joined Ford and General Motors in denouncing the lawsuit.

The Supreme Court decision last week in West Virginia v. EPA limiting the Biden administration’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants has cast a shadow over the future of other climate regulations like the clean truck proposal.

The ruling has put a renewed focus on state-led efforts to cut power plant emissions — including in a number of Republican-led states. But states have limited options when it comes to curbing transportation pollution, which falls almost entirely under federal jurisdiction.

California is the only state allowed to set emissions limits stronger than federal standards, which other states can then adopt. Its efforts face yet another source of uncertainty, though: EPA is considering slow-walking California’s rule to give industry more time to prepare.

Murky lines
The high court’s use of the “major questions” doctrine, which limits federal agencies’ ability to regulate important economic or political matters without clear direction from Congress, has created uncertainty for regulators. The doctrine could be used to squash a host of climate rules.

Conservative power brokers buoyed by the court’s decision wasted no time plotting their next move. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who spearheaded the challenge against EPA, said he’s taking a close look at a Securities and Exchange Commission proposal requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their climate pollution.

Potentially also on the chopping block is a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rule that would allow the agency to reject a natural gas pipeline based on its emissions.

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