The United States House of Representatives, by a vote of 221 to 203, agreed May 23 to overturn Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules aimed at reducing soot- and smog-forming emissions that are produced by heavy-duty trucks.
The rule, which was finalized in December 2022, marked the first update to heavy-duty trucking nitrogen oxide (NO2) emissions standards in over 20 years and includes standards that are at least 80% stronger than previous ones, according to the EPA. Moreover, the EPA predicted that the new rule would prevent up to 2,900 premature deaths and 6,700 hospital admissions between 2027 and 2045.
Republicans that voted against the rules argued they would be too difficult to implement, leading to an increase in supply chain costs as well as more pressure on small business owners that operate heavy-duty trucks. Some Republicans also claimed that the rules are part of an effort by the Biden administration to enforce more clean energy initiatives.
"Small truck owners and operators might not be able to afford these changes and will either go out of business or be forced to pass the cost on to the customer," said Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) during a May 23 floor speech. "Our supply chains are already stretched thin. Inflation is sky-high. Either of these scenarios worsens our economic outlook and raises prices for consumers across the board."
The U.S. Congress does have the power to override federal rules with a majority vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, the provision did not meet the two-thirds majority it needed to be protected from a presidential veto. This is significant because the White House has said that President Joe Biden will veto the overturn, which will appear on his desk soon. The measure was initially passed by the U.S. Senate in April 2023.
"It's really important, especially for protecting the health of the 72 million people living near truck freight routes in America," EPA administrator Michael Regan told Reuters during a December 2022 conversation.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.