US
BANNING, CA - DECEMBER 8: Diesel trucks and cars pass windmills along the 10 freeway on December 8, 2009 near Banning, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) BANNING, CA - DECEMBER 8: Diesel trucks and cars pass windmills along the 10 freeway on December 8, 2009 near Banning, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)  

Truck dealers study says EPA regulations worthless, costly

Photo of Alexis Levinson
Alexis Levinson
Political Reporter

Environmental Protection Agency regulations over the past decade that were designed to reduce the environmental impact of emissions from trucks have backfired, according to a study conducted by the American Truck Dealers division of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The EPA published new rules in 1997, 2000 and 2001, targeting trucks in model years 2004 through 2010; the study looks specifically at the 2000 and 2001 rules. The regulations were “designed to reduce emissions of three diesel fuel combustion products,” but instead prompted trucking companies to creatively adapt to the rules, said the report, undermining the environmental goals.

The industry association’s report says that costs to implement the regulations were two to five times higher than the EPA projected, damaged the truck market and have not provided the expected environmental benefits.

Compliance with the EPA’s requirements “directly resulted in higher truck prices, increased operating costs, reduced reliability, and lower file economic performance,” the NADA alleges.

Presumably to avoid the hassle and cost of the rules, many truck companies bought up trucks before the regulations went into effect, causing spikes in purchases the year before EPA regulations took effect, followed by a “slump” in sales once the new technology had been mandated.

Some companies simply held onto their older trucks, rather than replacing them with new trucks as they would have customarily done. Alternatively, many companies bought used trucks. Older trucks necessarily meant trucking companies were faced with reliability issues and higher operating costs. (RELATED: Full coverage on the Environmental Protection Agency)

“This aging fleet of older, higher polluting trucks is counterproductive to the pollution reduction targets EPA hoped to meet with its mandates,” the authors of the report note.

The regulations allegedly led to layoffs at companies that make trucks, like Volvo, which let 600 workers go in 2006, after its deputy CEO warned that the drop in sales following the regulations taking effect would inevitably result in layoffs.

The intended environmental benefits of the regulation, then, did not happen as the EPA expected. Rather, they were “delayed” as truck companies used various methods to avoid paying the higher prices and using the new technology.

When truckers did switch over to the new technology, reports found the engines to be less reliable and requiring of more maintenance. Moreover, they decreased the fuel economy performance of trucks. Statistics cited in the report found that that amounted to “a truck consuming an extra 800 additional gallons of fuel per year, on average.”

“The study shows what can happen when a regulatory proposal — based on far in-advance predictions — seeks to set mandates far in the future,” said NADA in a statement. “Importantly, the study documents the real-world market disruptions that can occur as a result.”

Looking down the road, NADA added: “The lessons learned from this report apply directly to the proposed MY 2017-2025 fuel economy regulations for light-duty vehicles. That rulemaking, combined with previous Obama administration fuel economy mandates, will raise the average price of a vehicle by $3,000, according to EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates. When faced with unreasonable federal regulatory mandates that increase motor vehicle costs, buyers of light-duty vehicles – similar to what commercial truck buyers experienced – will seek out less expensive alternatives in the marketplace.”

The EPA informed The Daily Caller that it could not comment on the report because it was released so recently.

Follow Alexis on Twitter