The House Oversight Committee is claiming that the California Air Resources Board was too influential in the drafting of federal truck fuel efficiency standards.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency that CARB appears to have been "heavily invested and highly involved" in development of the standards for heavy-duty trucks.
Truck and engine makers are already rolling out GHG-2014-compliant models. The Cascadia Evolution achieved 9.31 mpg on a 2,400-mile cross country trip
Truck and engine makers are already rolling out GHG-2014-compliant models. The Cascadia Evolution achieved 9.31 mpg on a 2,400-mile cross country trip

"It is not clear to the committee, however, why CARB exercised such outsized influence in this process, with apparently more input into the development of the rule than other nonfederal entities," Issa said in his June 21 letter to Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at EPA.

Issa gave McCarthy until July 5 to reply to a long list of questions aimed at spelling out CARB's role in the rule, and clarifying if California is regulating heavy truck emissions under a waiver from EPA.

GHG 2014

At issue is the rule by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that sets national standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for medium and heavy tractors, and engines, starting in 2014.

The standards go to the work the truck does: gallons per ton-mile and grams of carbon dioxide per ton-mile, and they vary among truck and engine types.

Using technologies that have been proven by the EPA SmartWay program, they will achieve fuel and emissions savings between 7% and 20% through improvements to engines, tires, the aerodynamics of the truck and reduced idling, the agencies said.

CARB was just one of a number of participants in the drafting of the rule. The National Academy of Sciences played a significant role by bringing together experts from the industry and elsewhere to devise a workable approach to the complex issue of truck fuel economy. Engine and truck manufacturers also participated.

Owner-operators left out?

In his letter Issa echoes complaints about the standard from the owner-operator community. He referenced the testimony of an independent, Scott Grenerth, before Congress last fall.

Grenerth, who was representing the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said the standard will impose unwarranted costs on small carriers.

The standard is suitable for larger carriers who buy "cookie cutter" equipment for repetitive hauls, but it does not take into account the variety of hauls that many owner-operators undertake, he said.

He also complained that owner-operators were not part of the rule-drafting process.

"Instead of a rule that reflects the varied nature of the trucking industry, the EPA and NHTSA developed a regulation that is a prime example of a one-size-fits-all rulemaking," Grenerth said in his statement.

In his letter Issa demanded that McCarthy say if EPA believes the SmartWay program is open equally to all carriers, no matter what size.

"Can a trucker who is not SmartWay certified or equipped with SmartWay approved technologies meet the standards of the heavy-duty regulation?" he asked.

Related Stories:

8/9/2011 Obama Administration Announces First Fuel Economy Standards for Medium and Heavy Trucks

11/10/2011 Suit Filed Over New Truck Fuel Economy Standards

1/12/2012 How Engine Makers Might Hit New Fuel Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets