The House passed legislation Tuesday to reject a Biden administration environmental regulation that targets heavy-duty vehicle tailpipe emissions.
In a 221-203 vote, the House approved the resolution with 217 Republicans and four Democrats voting in favor. In April, Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, a member of the Transportation Committee’s Highways and Transit subcommittee, introduced the resolution as a companion bill to one that Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., unveiled in the Senate two months earlier.
“Folks, I want to be crystal clear today,” Nehls remarked on the House floor ahead of the vote. “Woke bureaucrats in Washington are on a climate justice crusade using the heavy hand of government to go after the trucking industry that keeps America moving. And in the last three decades, we’ve made significant, significant strides in the right direction to decrease emissions and increase efficiency.
“The EPA unilaterally imposed this detrimental rule which could lead to a litany of further supply chain disruptions across the country, hit the smaller mom-and-pop trucking companies the hardest and pass along increased costs to the American consumer,” he said. “This is exactly why it is imperative that the House passes this joint resolution to nullify this burdensome regulation.”
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In December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the rules that it said at the time were the “strongest-ever national clean air standards to cut smog- and soot-forming emissions from heavy-duty trucks.” The new standards went into effect on March 27 but will be implemented for new trucks sold after 2027.
The EPA projected that the regulations, which are more than 80% tougher than current standards, would prevent up to 2,900 premature deaths and ensure 3.1 million fewer cases of asthma.
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But Republicans argued that the regulation – estimated to cost an estimated $39 billion, according to the American Action Forum – was “onerous” and would hurt small trucking businesses by forcing them to adopt costly technology. Led by Fischer, who said the “last thing this country needs is more expensive freight costs and fewer truckers,” more than 30 senators introduced the Senate resolution to reject the rule in February.
The Senate passed the measure in a 50-49 vote on April 26, paving the way for the House vote Tuesday.
President Joe Biden, though, has vowed to veto the resolution, and the close vote in both chambers indicates there aren’t enough votes to override a veto. Democrats continue to argue that the regulations are necessary to boost public health.
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“The trucking industry is a leading source of this dangerous air pollution,” House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone, DN.J., said Tuesday. “And it is especially dangerous for the 72 million Americans who live near truck freight routes across the United States. The EPA rule will cut NOx pollution from these vehicles by nearly half in 2045.”
“The Republican CRA that we are debating this afternoon would abandon all of the public health, economic, and environmental justice benefits that come with the EPA rule,” Pallone said.