June 8, 2023

19 states target EPA waiver for California’s Advanced Clean Trucks rule


Nineteen states have sought appellate court review in a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency waiver granted to California’s Advanced Clean Trucks Rule.

The petition was filed Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. 

The relatively short filing challenges the waiver that was granted by the EPA and posted to the Federal Register April 6. That waiver was the latest in a long history of the EPA granting California waivers to pursue its own emissions and pollution standards, which is permitted under federal law dating back to the ’60s.

The filing states that federal law establishes the D.C. Court of Appeals as an “exclusive venue” for challenges to agency actions that could be deemed “nationally applicable” or if an action has “nationwide scope or effect.” There is little else in the filing beyond an attachment of the Federal Register publication of the waiver decision.  

Ultimately at issue in the filing by the states is a major question: With some other states having vowed to follow California’s lead on clean vehicles and other emission rules, does California effectively set the standard for the entire country? Original equipment manufacturers are generally loath to run two separate production lines: one for California and its followers and the other for the rest of the nation.

Fourteen other states, California and the District of Columbia in 2020 signed a memorandum of understanding that pledged a pathway to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2050, though California’s rules call for the transition to be completed prior to that. For example, the “Milestones” that govern the transition in the Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rule – the partner legislation to the ACT – call for 100% ZEVs in the affected fleets by 2042. 

The states in the legal action against the EPA are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. While some of those states have Democratic governors — Louisiana, Kansas and Kentucky — all have Republican attorneys general.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird referred indirectly in a statement on the filing to the possibility of the California rule becoming a de facto national standard. “The EPA and California have no right or legal justification to force truckers to follow their radical climate agenda,” Bird said. The Biden administration is forcing truckers “to drive electric trucks for his radical climate change agenda. Iowa isn’t going to take a backseat as the EPA and California try to regulate truckers out of business. We’re pushing back.”

The Advanced Clean Trucks rule goes hand in hand with California’s recently approved Advanced Clean Fleets rule. The ACT governs the types of trucks that OEMs must supply to the state; the ACF rule lays out a pathway for fleets to phase out internal combustion engine trucks in favor of zero-emission vehicles, either through direct mandates or by setting a timetable for trucks’ “useful life,” after which they must be removed from the road.

California has not requested a waiver for the Clean Fleets rule, and there is no consensus among observers of the process whether the state needs one for the ACF.

The action taken by the states also targets the EPA waiver granted to the warranty extension rule adopted by the California Air Resources Board in 2018. That rule mandates longer warranty periods on truck engines. CARB, in a statement on its website from January 2022, said of the rule that “the purpose of longer warranty periods for emission control-related equipment on heavy duty trucks is to better ensure they perform as intended for the hundreds of thousands of miles trucks are typically driven.”

More articles by John Kingston

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