D.C. Circuit Vacates EPA’s Truck Trailer Greenhouse Gas Standards

January 10, 2022

Environmental, Energy, & Climate Change Law and Regulation Reporter, Volume 2, Number 4


On November 12, 2021, the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rule that would have set fuel efficiency standards designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for trailers pulled by semi-trucks. The court in Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, Inc. v. EPA, found that because trailers are not “motor vehicles” or “vehicles,” the agencies lacked authority to set fuel efficiency standards for this equipment.

Background

In 2016, EPA and NHTSA jointly published a rule called Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles—Phase 2, 81 Fed. Reg. 73478 (Oct 15, 2016). In addition to setting fuel efficiency standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from trucks, for the first time the agencies set fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trailers, pulled by tractors or semi-trucks. The rule was immediately challenged by the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association and the Court issued stays in 2017 to the EPA portion of the rule and in 2020 to the NHTSA portion of rule, before the requirements of the rule could take effect.

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