Monday, October 3, 2016 –
Shame on EPA Again!
Notwithstanding a lack of legal authority, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently created new rules under the Clean Air Act. These rules attempt to regulate the trailers which are usually used with tractors. This rule is a part of their new regulations on motor vehicle fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
The law grants EPA the ability to regulate “air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or motor vehicle engines” (42 USC 7521(a)).
So the question becomes does the law give them the right to regulate anything connected with the use of a motor vehicle? When determining the law, it is a settled legal principle that you first look to the plain meaning of the words in the statue. Under the Clean Air Act, the definition of motor vehicle would control. I don’t think it takes a Harvard trained lawyer to understand the meaning of this section:
42 USC 7550(2)
The term “motor vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle designed for transporting persons or property on a street or highway.However, at a recent Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, I questioned how the EPA could have considered a trailer to be a self-propelled vehicle. EPA Administrator Janet McCabe justified their authority by claiming trailers are eligible because “without a trailer, a truck is not transporting goods.”
She continued, “And so we see the trailer as an integral part of the vehicle that is covered in the Clean Air Act.”
Since currently the truck cannot drive itself, isn’t the driver an integral part of the truck that is transporting goods as well? Under the EPA’s theory, are they saying they believe they have authority to regulate the height, weight, and size of the driver?
As ridiculous as this sounds, drivers would qualify under the same theory that the EPA is currently using to claim it has the power to regulate the trailer portion of a tractor trailer. Despite the lengthy legal memoranda the EPA produced to argue their position, it is clear that neither the trailer, nor the driver, under the definition above (42 USC 7550(2)), is a self-propelled motor vehicle.
The plain meaning of the code is clear. If the EPA wants to include trailers in their emission reducing requirements, they should request Congress amend the code section.
The EPA cannot independently reinterpret parts of a law that are inconvenient. The EPA is not elected to change or create new laws; this is the job of Congress.
Furthermore, the manufacturers of the trailers are generally separate entities from the truck manufactures. Volvo Trucks of Dublin makes tractors, but they don’t make trailers. Utility Trailers (Glade Spring and Atkins) don’t make trucks, they only make trailers.
I suspect the EPA knows their legal reasoning is not sound. The EPA passes a regulation, claiming they have authority when often they don’t. This forces American manufactures to sue at the cost of lost productivity and millions of dollars. Manufacturers sometimes throw up their hands in frustration and capitulate, even though they know the EPA is overreaching.
Shame on you, EPA.
Editorial comment: Over the years, what I've seen hasn't been the EPA doing "too much" or "not enough" so much as the EPA going after the easy targets. The kind of start-up trucking companies found in the Ninth District are sizable ventures, and yes, the trucks do pollute, but it's not as if we had a pollution-free alternative--or were likely to have one until someone figures out how to build a fiscally feasible solar-powered train system. Thing is...Barger's Trucking is so much easier to confront than Monsanto.
Thing is...I don't see birds dying, or see friends becoming ill, or have hayfever and/or even heart problems myself (yes, my mini-heart-attack on Labor Day weekend was linked to exposure to airborne glyphosate residues!) because a semi is less efficient than it could be. Seems to me that getting "Roundup" banned forever is a higher priority than bothering our heads about the trucking industry.