Insights - March/April 2017 - 17
Trump administration pursues its regulatory reform review. To
further that goal, all federal agencies were tasked in late February
with the responsibility to come up with regulations that could be
rolled back or eliminated within 90 days, out of the thousands
and thousands that exist today.
"It's anyone's guess whether this rule will be withdrawn,"
There are intermodal implications in addition to the broad
questions of the rule's future. Freiler believes there is anecdotal
evidence that some California-centered carriers and shippers
shifted their freight to containers and chassis from trailers when
that state previously imposed tougher trailer rules. That could
because the chassis and container combination isn't covered on
a national basis. There is the additional advantage for intermodal
that new chassis are less expensive to build than trailers, which
could further create an advantage for intermodal.
"It's anyone's guess whether this rule
will be withdrawn."
- Glen Kedzie, ATA
There is more to the uncertainty from an intermodal
standpoint than whether the rule survives, particularly in
California, a hotbed of intermodal activity centered around
California ports. "If Phase II is frozen or done away with," Kedzie
said, "then California will go forward without the EPA" to impose
its own state regulations. California's rules could also be applied
to existing chassis and trailers that are on the road due to the
state's broader environmental regulatory power than federal
standards that only apply to new equipment, Kedzie said.
is what we want. We want to make sure the rules are consistent
wherever the truck is going in the country. We don't want to
disrupt fleets and OEMs."
California state legislators already are working on bills to
replace the federal rules if they are abolished. Kedzie said he
was concerned about individual state emissions regulations,
particularly in California where some regulators are considering
There are several other complications. Two of them are
The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association was joined by
eight states that have asked a U.S. appeals court to stop all of
the GHG Phase II regulations from taking effect. Those states
include California and other key states for intermodal such as
Supreme Court Decision
Kedzie mentioned a Supreme Court decision that obliges EPA
to consider "endangerment" to public health and welfare. If the
not considering that factor.
"Our main problem with the rule is that EPA exceeded their
Additional Resources for Trailer Rule
Members who require additional information can contact:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2000 Traverwood Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
The entire Phase 2 rule is available at:
Other rule-related documents are available at
www.epa.gov or www.nhtsa.dot.gov
SmartWay/Phase 2 Rule Interaction:
EPA and NHTSA may pre-approve aerodynamic devices for
must include documentation about aerodynamic testing
done before 2018.
authority" in publishing trailer regulations, since a trailer isn't a
motor vehicle, Freiler said.
Another potential question is the Congressional Review Act,
which gives Congress the power to overturn recently established
rules such as the Phase II regulations through a simple majority
vote. Calling it the "nuclear option," Kedzie said that approach
has the pitfall of disallowing any future regulation of the rule that
was rolled back. That fact could dissuade some in Congress
from pursuing that approach since there inevitably will be future
Democratic majorities as well as a long-standing desire to
address environmental issues, Kedzie added.
Kedzie noted, however, that there could be long-term fuel
could go both ways," he explained. "There could be more fuel
savings to fleets that buy new trailers, but they will have to buy
newer technology, or it could give a cost advantage to intermodal
equipment that doesn't have to meet the tougher standards."
Still another consideration for trailer users is how they factor
in the effect of fuel surcharges as the regulations change. It may
negotiations with shippers who want the rate and fuel surcharge
lumped together. Freiler said "dry vans are the most highly
regulated trailers. They have very strict emissions reductions
goals that increase over time."
incentive to adopt emissions-reducing fairings or skirts already
have done so for commercial reasons. The new rule would hurt
regional operators, he contended, because their shorter length of
haul gives them fewer cost advantages.
Trailer makers also are being saddled, Kedzie said, with a
requirement to have every trailer meet the new rule on Day One,
while engine manufacturers have a phased-in option.
March/April 2017 | Intermodal Insights