New EPA Guidelines for Diesel Emissions

New EPA Guidelines for Di…

Starting up and running a trucking company is no easy task. There are all the typical headaches that come with operating any business such as the paperwork, insurance, and staffing. Then, there are the ones specific to trucking, such as: Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration registration requirements; fuel tax requirements; State and Federal compliance regulations compliance; and a mountain of others.

So, now that the Environmental Protection Agency has finalized new regulations aimed at reducing emissions from trucks and delivery vehicles (among other commercial vehicles), business owners may have a difficult time celebrating the benefits to the environment while they grapple with the ramifications to their bottom lines. To that end, it might be helpful to understand how the new EPA regulations will impact the trucking industry and what business owners can expect as the regulations roll out.

First, these regulations are part of a comprehensive strategy called the Clean Trucks Plan. This is a series of clean air and climate regulations designed to reduce pollution from buses, tractors, and other large commercial vehicles. While the EPA hopes this will ultimately result in a transition to zero-emissions transportation in the future, the regulations announced on December 20, 2022 are only the first step in this plan. These regulations will impact vehicles produced after 2027 (aka “model year 2027” or “MY 2027”). The goal is to cut 50% of smog and soot-forming emissions by 2045. These are the first regulatory changes announced in this area in approximately 20 years and mainly target nitrogen oxide emissions.

Nitrogen oxides are a family of poisonous, highly reactive gases which form when fuel is burned at high temperatures. When released into the atmosphere, these gases form smog, acid rain, and soot. Even at low concentrations, breathing in nitrogen oxides had been linked to coughing and shortness of breath. Additionally, studies have shown that exposure to heavy diesel emissions can increase rates of asthma, heart disease and chronic lung disease.

Next steps in the Clean Trucks Plan include (1) stronger emissions standards for medium-duty commercial vehicles for MY 2027 and beyond; (2) setting new standards for light-duty vehicles for MY 2027 and beyond; and (3) setting “Phase 3” Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) standards for heavy-duty vehicles beginning as soon as MY 2030 that are significantly stronger than the MY 2027 GHG standards. These next steps are expected to be announced around March 2023.

As for the December 2022 regulations, one of the most significant changes being introduced is that, for the first time, pollution generated by vehicles as they idle and proceed at low speeds will be regulated. Manufacturers will be required to ensure that their engines’ electronic pollution controls are tamper-proof. Although the rules do not require replacement of those trucks already in circulation, emissions reductions standards will increase over time and will require truck manufacturers to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by 80% below the current standards.

Many trucking groups view the regulatory options presented in the EPA’s proposal as impractical for small trucking businesses. Indeed, although clear air is certainly a priority for everyone, including truckers, the newly required technology could impact the cost of doing business. In particular, the regulations could limit equipment options for carriers and apply pressure on pricing. As with all environmental regulations, the benefits of clean air will come at a cost to industry.

If you would like a legal consultation or assistance to ensure that your business is prepared to comply with the EPA’s newly finalized regulations, please contact Mo Sherman ( at 804-377-1275 or Steve Setliff ( at 804-377-1261.