Fleet Management

Will Truck Owners Face GHG Enforcement?

January 2014, TruckingInfo.com - Feature

by Tom Berg and Oliver Patton

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Truck owners and manufacturers share responsibility for compliance with the new limits on carbon dioxide emissions and fuel economy, although the initial burden falls on the original equipment manufacturers.

Comments by a builder representative at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s meeting in Pittsburgh last September, sparked angst among fleet managers about how the rule will be enforced.

The general understanding has been that truck and engine builders, rather than owners, will be responsible for obeying the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulations that went into effect Jan. 1. These rules limit carbon dioxide and require higher fuel economy for commercial trucks (see cover article).

“The agency’s intent was to direct enforcement against the OEMs,” said Glen Kedzie, vice president and energy and environmental affairs counsel at the American Trucking Associations.

“Once equipment enters the hands of fleet purchasers, that’s where the matter of enforcement enters a gray area, given what happens during the useful life of that vehicle once it leaves the control of the OEMs. I don’t believe enforcement will ensue against fleets once they take delivery of new equipment.”

But Zach Slaton, a principal engineer at Kenworth, told the TMC audience that the greenhouse gas regs also place responsibility on owners, the same as is now the case with emissions limits on diesel exhaust.

Fleets must maintain their trucks as built for minimum “useful life” periods, which is 435,000 miles for Class 8 trucks and 135,000 for medium-duty, he said.

Later, he said he was speaking with guidance from Dan Kieffer, director of emissions compliance for Paccar, the corporate parent of Kenworth and Peterbilt.

Kieffer confirmed his reading of the emissions regulations and cited a key paragraph: “Engine and vehicle manufacturers, as well as owners and operators of vehicles subject to the requirements of this part, and all other persons, must observe the provisions of this part, [and] the provisions of the Clean Air Act…” That is paragraph (a) of 1037.601 in the regulations, he said.

That means owners can’t alter anything connected with GHGs or fuel economy unless it’s justified by a change of duties or locales. Affected components will include aerodynamic fairings, fuel-efficient tires and speed-limiting parameters set in engines’ electronic control modules.

If an ECM’s speed limiter were set at 65 mph, no one could legally set it higher during the useful-life period, Slayton said.

Aero fairings must be kept on the vehicle and maintained so they work as designed. And low-rolling-resistance tires must be replaced by new or retreaded tires that also offer low rolling resistance. This led to a question from an exasperated fleet manager.

“What happens if my truck blows a tire on the way to California, and the service truck comes out and replaces it with something that’s not the same brand and type as the original?” asked Tom Wildish, director of maintenance at Freymiller Trucking in Oklahoma City. “Is an inspector later going to see that the truck has nine tires of one kind and the 10th tire is different, and give me a citation?”

HDT put the question to EPA and learned that the answer is in the owner’s manual. Here’s what the agency said:

“In terms of compliance, the primary guidance to the vehicle owners and operators is through maintenance instructions in the owner’s manual that the vehicle manufacturer provides to their customer.

“The manufacturer must provide instructions to the vehicle owner regarding maintaining the vehicle such that it complies with GHG regulations.

“These instructions are included in the owner’s manual and cover issues such as how to replace the original tires with tires that have as good or better rolling resistance characteristics and the proper maintenance of any devices installed on the vehicle that control GHG emissions.

“During the certification process the manufacturer submits their draft maintenance instructions to EPA for review and approval.”

EPA cited section 1037.655 of the Clean Air Act, which specifies the modifications that can and cannot be made during the life of the vehicle.


  1. 1. Joe Rajkovacz [ January 14, 2014 @ 08:57AM ]

    Fortunately, US EPA does not have inspectors at roadside checking on everyone’s compliance with their rules. The only exception to that is if you travel into California. A very common misconception is that traditional law enforcement is going to add this to their list of items to inspect – don’t bet on it. Law enforcement nationally properly views their role as related to “highway safety.” Adding compliance with environmental regulations is thought to be a form of “mission creep” and most unlikely to occur unless significant funds are attached for both training of officers and enforcement.

  2. 2. Jab8283 [ January 14, 2014 @ 12:58PM ]

    The EPA is hashing out a lot of bull crap but it's not as if they'd notice with those bulls balls dangling from their nose ring. All this crap they are dishing and proposing will end up hurting the Class 8 truck market by dictating how trucks are to be built, used, maintained and so on and so forth. Does the EPA really have that much authority? The day the trucking bee's wax begins moving in that direction, I'm done because none of us will be able to afford to stay in business. We will be priced right out of our own market. Oh, and to let EPA dictate how trucks will be built will essentially mean they too shall control and dictate the price of a Class 8 truck, it's parts and it's maintenance service. As for local police performing road side inspections on the trucking industry, that is opening another whole can of worms that we don't need. They can't do the job's they were hired for but I guarantee you it'll be open season on truckers and truck owners because we are such easy targets. Now I know how turtles feel.

  3. 3. Big yellower [ January 14, 2014 @ 03:58PM ]

    Question how would the EPA know if you changed something . Lets say you have 2009 Freightliner Cascadia condo sleeper . It has a 9 speed you upgrade to a 13 speed. It also had super singles. But, you work off-road 50% of time so you switch back to 8 tires.. Then you hook up a bully dog reprogrammer to monitor engine performance .. So how would they find out?? Also in WA State it's illegal to own a radar/laser detector/ jammer. But, you can buy any where in. WA State.
    Myself its unenforceable garbage...

  4. 4. Mike Dailey [ January 18, 2014 @ 10:53AM ]

    I do not know about the rest of the country but New Jersey does random roadside emissions inspections on tractors and be prepared if you fail. As for other modifications I would love to take the emissions stuff off the 3 trucks I have with CAT ACERT engines.

  5. 5. Don Juanit [ January 20, 2014 @ 10:56AM ]

    First the EPA mandates that the OEM's produce engines that get worse milage in the name of clean air.
    Now they mandate that every truck has to be more efficient.
    Does anyone think they dont want you and your truck on the road?
    How is anyone supposed to second life a truck tractor from a fleet?
    That would involve reducing fuel efficency and would thus be illegal.
    why does everything they mandate have tomake my life more difficult.


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