Farm, petroleum coalition file lawsuit to stop EPA emissions rule

June 19, 2024

Originally published by AG Daily. Written by Heidi Crnkovic.

The National Corn Growers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association joined the American Petroleum Institute today in filing a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s heavy-duty vehicle emissions standards for model years 2027-2032.

The groups said EPA exceeded its congressional authority with the regulation, which includes targets that rely too heavily on electrification and do not fully appreciate the role low-carbon fuels like ethanol play in the transportation sector.

“EPA has tried to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing climate change by prioritizing electric vehicles over other climate remedies like corn ethanol,” said Minnesota farmer and National Corn Growers Association President Harold Wolle. “But while it could take decades to get enough electric vehicles on the road to make a dent in GHG emissions, lower carbon fuels such as ethanol are critical and effective climate tools that are available now. Ethanol is not only critical in the climate fight, but it also saves consumers money at the pump while benefiting America’s rural economies. We look forward to making this case in court.”

The groups also noted that EPA’s standard would put America’s farmers and their livestock at risk.

“Farmers rely on heavy-duty trucks to transport livestock long distances, and they choose the most efficient routes to ensure the animals in their care remain on the vehicle for as little time as possible,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “Unfortunately, heavy-duty vehicles that are powered by batteries have short ranges and require hours to charge. Impractical regulations will extend the amount of time on the road, putting the health and safety of drivers and livestock at risk if they need to stop for long periods of time to charge.”

Image by Dusan Petkovic, Shutterstock© Provided by AGDAILY

The groups further emphasized the impact the agency’s standards would have on America’s supply chain and on its small-business truckers.

“Small business truckers make up 96 percent of trucking and could be regulated out of existence if the EPA’s unworkable heavy-duty rule comes into effect,” said Todd Spencer, president of Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “This rule would devastate the reliability of America’s supply chain and ultimately increase costs for consumers. Mom-and-pop trucking businesses would be suffocated by the sheer cost and operational challenges of effectively mandating zero-emission trucks, but this administration appears intent on forcing through its deluge of misguided environmental mandates. As the voice of over 150,000 small-business truckers, we owe it to our members and every small-business trucker in America to leave no stone unturned in fighting these radical environmental policies.”

Leaders at API highlighted the repercussions EPA’s standard will have on consumers.

“Today, we are standing up for consumers who rely on trucks to deliver the goods they use every single day,” said API Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ryan Meyers. “The EPA is forcing a switch to technology that simply does not presently exist for these kinds of vehicles – and even if it were someday possible, it will almost certainly have consequences for your average American. This is sadly yet another example of this administration pushing unpopular policy mandates that lack statutory authority, and we look forward to holding them accountable in court.”

In March, the Biden administration finalized new federal emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles (including commercial vehicles). In the final rule, EPA projects that there would need to be significant deployment of zero-emission vehicles throughout the heavy-duty fleet to meet emissions standards. For example, over 40% of vocational vehicles (work trucks) would need to be zero-emission vehicles by model year 2032. Additionally, long-haul tractors (semi-trucks), which currently have no ZEV deployment, would need to go from zero percent today to 25 percent of the fleet by model year 2032.

»Related: Corn growers and auto dealers unite to sue EPA over EV mandate