Truckers collide with EPA over new environmental standards, could hurt mom & pop companies
Story by Rebekah Castor
For the first time in two decades the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released new standards for semi-trucks to help lower air pollution.
Some smaller trucking companies fear the additional costs for these environmentally friendly vehicles could push them out of the industry.
It will be several years before these trucks hit the road. Manufacturers must follow the new EPA rule for model year 2027 trucks, but small business owners are preparing now.
“Is it good for the environment; is it good for our health? Yes, I’m all about it,” said William John, the president of John N. John, a trucking company in Crowley, Louisiana. “But we’re going to need help somewhere to absorb these costs. For a family-owned company, it will be a financial hit.”
The EPA estimates the new requirements could cost an extra $8,304 per vehicle for a big rig with a heavy diesel engine, but those in the industry are preparing for the price to be higher.
“The price of the trucks will probably go up […] to $15,000 a piece,” John said. “Someone has to pay for it. We don’t want to skimp on safety regulations and we don’t want to pay our employees less, so it could eventually trickle down to the consumer.”
The EPA says the new standards are 80% stronger and will significantly reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. Nitrogen dioxide has been linked to heart and lung problems.
“Right now we are all paying for the pollution from these trucks,” said Lisa Frank with Environment America. “We’re paying in terms of higher hospital bills and asthma, missed work, missed school.”
The EPA estimates by 2045, the rule will result in up to 2,900 fewer premature deaths, 6,700 fewer hospital admissions and 18,000 fewer cases of childhood asthma. However, because of its potential impact on the trucking industry, a group of 34 Republican senators are pushing for the EPA rule to be overturned.
In a February press release, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) said, “The Biden Administration is saddling the trucking industry with an onerous regulation that would jack up vehicle costs and hurt good paying jobs. This aggressive EPA rule – which will hit mom and pop truck operations the hardest – is also ineffective because it incentivizes operators to keep using older, higher-emitting trucks for longer.”
John would like to see the government give tax credits to the companies who purchase the EPA approved trucks.
“Let them take a part of it, so it makes it easier for us to swallow,” John said. “Otherwise, especially for smaller, two to three truck companies, it comes down to maybe this is not the business anymore.”