Group of senators ask EPA to withdraw Phase 3 greenhouse gas regs

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, May 30, 2023:

Senators ask EPA to withdraw proposed Phase 3 GHG emissions regs

A contingent of U.S. senators last week penned a letter to EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, asking the agency to withdraw proposed emissions regulations. The letter follows more than 150 House Republicans sending a letter to Regan earlier last week and both houses of Congress voting to overturn the EPA regs in recent times. 

The two suggested rules, "Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and Medium-Duty Vehicles" and "Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles -- Phase 3," would mandate a transition to electric cars and trucks in the absence of Congressional direction, the letter states. 

The senators allege the regs would violate the precedent set by the Supreme Court in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency in 2022. The court then ruled that the EPA cannot force wholesale change to "substantially restructure the American energy market" without explicit Congressional authorization. 

"The heavy-duty vehicle rule will require 40% of sales of zero-emission vehicles by 2032, up from a mere 0.1% globally for heavy-duty trucks and 4% globally for bus fleets," the letter said. "If finalized, these proposals will effectively require a wholesale conversion from powering vehicles with widely available liquid fuel to charging BEVs off our nation's electric grid. This is a major, multi-billion-dollar, policy-driven technology transition mandate to be imposed on American consumers by your agency, without any semblance of the clear and direct statutory authority required by the ruling in West Virginia v. EPA." 

Additionally, the senators said they are concerned about the ability of the American electric grid to support more electric vehicles. Lawmakers cited an American Transportation Research Institute study that found that full-scale electrification of the transportation fleet would require generation and transmission capacity equal to more than 40% of the current electric demand. 

Senators also voiced concerns about increasing regulation on electric power generation.

Because of heavy batteries and therefore decreased payloads, the letter also noted that a shift to heavy-duty electric vehicles may increase the number of heavy-duty vehicles on the road, which could have implications for highway safety and traffic congestion. Further, the EPA's proposals do not coordinate with the U.S. Department of Transportation on these and other issues, the Senators added, with American infrastructure possibly being ill-equipped to handle the increased weight of electric vehicles. 

The letter is signed by 27 Republican U.S. senators, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), who is the ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

[Related: House votes in favor of EPA emission regs rollback]

Navistar recalls 4,000 trucks over lights issue

Navistar is recalling more than 4,000 trucks, with model years dating back as far as 2001, for an issue with the trucks’ lights, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

The recall affects approximately 4,030 model year 2001-'03 International 9100i; 2004-'09 International 9200i; 2009, 2011-'12, 2017 International ProStar; and 2021 International RH trucks.

In the affected units, the back-up lights offer low visibility when the trucks are in reverse while bobtailing. Also, the vehicles have not been equipped with additional unobstructed back-up lights, the recall said. As such, the trucks do not comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, "Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment."

Dealers will replace the existing rear stop/turn signal lights, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed July 17. Owners can contact Navistar's customer service at 1-800-448-7825 with recall number 23514. NHTSA’s recall number is 23V-353.

Turn signal issue prompts recall of certain Western Star trucks

Daimler Trucks North America is recalling approximately 47 model year 2023 Western Star 57X trucks in which the interior turn signals may flash too quickly and not align with the exterior turn signal flashing. 

Interior turn signals that consistently flash too quickly may not change their flash rate to alert the driver to replace the bulbs, causing the trucks to fall out of compliance with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108. 

The remedy is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed July 15. Owners may contact DTNA customer service at 1-800-547-0712 with recall number FL975. NHTSA’s recall number is 23V-348.

[Related: Medium duty Internationalls recalled]

Driver named Highway Angel for helping fellow driver suffering heart attack

The Truckload Carriers Association has named truck driver Virgil Hunter, from Tyrone, Pennsylvania, a Highway Angel for helping rescue a fellow trucker when he was having a heart attack. Hunter drives for Ward Transport out of Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Virgil HunterVirgil HunterOn Tuesday May 9, Ward Trucking driver Dan Brennan was driving when he suddenly realized he wasn’t feeling well. Brennan had noticed that his arm hurt earlier in the day but assumed he had pulled a muscle. It wasn’t until later in the day that his arm suddenly went numb while driving.

Brennan had pulled over in a grocery store parking lot and began having chest pains. He attempted to call a nearby driver when he realized he didn’t have any cell phone reception.

Hunter, also a Ward Trucking driver, noticed Brennan’s truck pulled over and quickly stopped to check on the driver.

“He was sitting on the side of the road,” Hunter said. “I saw his left arm out the window waving me over, so I pulled in front of him and walked back. He asked me where my phone was -- I said it was in the truck. He said, ‘I need you to call 911; I think I’m having a heart attack.’”

It turned out the driver was in fact having a heart attack. Hunter immediately called 911 and stayed with Brennan until the ambulance took him to the hospital. He contacted Brennan’s family to let them know of the situation and keep them up to date with everything that was happening.

Hunter was also quick to contact the terminal location and inform them of the situation taking place. Throughout the entire process, Hunter stayed in contact with Brennan’s wife to keep her informed. His quick actions to stop and check on Brennan quite possibly saved his life.

“He was calm -- he knew all the symptoms,” Hunter said. “I just showed up at the right time -- the good Lord put me in his presence.”