142520528 | Don Akins | Dreamstime.com
Progressively stricter federal emissions standards aimed at U.S. trucking are less than three years away and, according to detractors, could drive the transportation industry off a cliff.

GHG3 is destined to fail, according to industry detractors

May 14, 2024
If large fleets are struggling to adapt to transportation’s carbon-free future, how will smaller trucking fleets keep up with federal regulations set to take effect in less than three years?

Progressively stricter federal emissions standards aimed at U.S. trucking are less than three years away and, according to detractors, could drive the transportation industry off a cliff. 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles-Phase 3, known as GHG3, aims to combat climate change. Beginning with model year 2027 equipment, truck and engine manufacturers must make a certain number of zero-emission vehicles, which include battery-electric and fuel cell-electric vehicles. 

For example, to satisfy 2032 emissions goals, 25% of an OEM’s long-haul (sleeper cab) tractors and 40% of its short-haul (day cab) trucks should not produce any tailpipe emissions. GHG3 begins taking effect with MY 2027, with light heavy-duty vocational needing 17% ZEV sales and medium heavy-duty vocational needing 13%. By MY 2032, these shares would need to be at 60% and 40%, respectively. 

Among the federal rule's detractors are Congressional Republicans, American Trucking Associations, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and many fleet leaders, who all voiced serious concerns over the current aggressive timeline.

See also: Making charging infrastructure a non-issue along the West Coast

One of those fleet leaders is Taki Darakos, VP of vehicle maintenance and fleet service at Pitt Ohio, as well as chairman of the Technology & Maintenance Council’s S.11 Sustainability & Environmental Technologies Study Group, who addressed the United States House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit on April 30.

Pitt Ohio, a less-than-truckload carrier operating from the Midwest to the East Coast, boasts a fleet of 950 company-owned tractors, 2,900 trailers, and 600 straight trucks. In its commitment to sustainability, the fleet has tested Volvo's VNR Electric in regional hauls around Cleveland. Additionally, the terminal has acquired Freightliner's eM2, a medium-duty battery-electric straight truck. The terminal is equipped with solar panels and innovative narrow wind turbines, making it a model of sustainability in the industrial suburb of Parma, Ohio.

“Although we continue to be optimistic about the promise of electrification in medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, we continue to encounter challenges related to costs, vehicle range, durability, and charging infrastructure that complicate broader deployment of heavy-duty battery-electric trucks,” Darakos stated.

If large fleets, such as Pitt Ohio, are struggling, that might not bode well for smaller fleets and the trucking industry as a whole because, according to the DOT, 99.7% of U.S. fleets operate fewer than 100 trucks.

“A major flaw is following the lead of the California Air Resources Board, which effectively will ban the sales of diesel trucks in the state by 2036,” writes John Hitch, editor-in-chief of Fleet Maintenance, a FleetOwner affiliate publication. “That might work in the Golden State, but the nation is a vast place, and federal mandates impact Parma and everywhere else from Juneau, Alaska, to Miami.”

Read more of Hitch’s deep dive into GHG3 and how fleets and other wary members of the trucking and transportation industries weigh in on how what they know and don’t know about how this restrictive regulation could impact the U.S. at FleetMaintenance.com.

About the Author

FleetOwner Staff

Our Editorial Team

Kevin Jones, Editorial Director, Commercial Vehicle Group

Josh Fisher, Editor-in-Chief

Jade Brasher, Senior Editor

Jeremy Wolfe, Editor

Jenna Hume, Digital Editor

Eric Van Egeren, Art Director

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Report: The 2024 State of Heavy-Duty Repair

From capitalizing on the latest revenue trends to implementing strategic financial planning—this report serves as a roadmap for navigating the challenges and opportunities of ...

Fleet Industry Benchmarks: How does your fleet stack up?

Discover how your fleet compares to industry benchmarks and gain insights from a 2024 Benchmarking Report on maintenance spend, turnaround time, and more. Join us to identify ...

Build a Tolling Program to Manage Toll Fees and Risks

Fleets looking to effectively manage their operational costs should consider their tolling costs. Download the PrePass whitepaper, “Build a Tolling Program to Manage Toll Fees...

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...