By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives voted 221 to 203 on Tuesday to overturn Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that aim to drastically cut smog- and soot-forming emissions from heavy-duty trucks.
The White House said President Joe Biden would veto the measure that now goes to his desk after being passed by the Senate in April. It said the EPA rule “cuts pollution, boosts public health, and advances environmental justice.”
Republicans argue the new rules, finalized in December, are overly challenging to implement, will increase supply chain costs and will make trucks too expensive for small business owners.
Republican Senator Deb Fischer said “every American consumer will feel the effects of this rule and its price increases.”
Democratic Representative Frank Pallone said the “Republican bill would have dire consequences for EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission to protect public health and welfare from dangerous pollution.”
Under the Congressional Review Act, a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress can reverse recently finalized rules, but that action must win approval of the president.
The standards tighten yearly emissions limits, the first update to clean air standards for heavy duty trucks in more than two decades, and are 80% more stringent than current standards.
The EPA estimates by 2045, the rule will result in up to 2,900 fewer premature deaths annually, 1.1 million fewer lost school days for children and $29 billion in annual net benefits.
“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 in December.
The EPA in April proposed new pollution cuts for larger vehicles.
Under the proposal, EPA estimates 50% of vehicles like buses and garbage trucks could be electric vehicles (EVs) by 2032, along with 35% of new short-haul freight tractors and 25% of new long-haul freight tractors. Medium-duty vehicle rules are projected to cut emissions by 44% by 2032 over 2026 standards.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sonali Paul)