Heavy-Duty Vehicles and Freight

AuthorAndrea Hudson Campbell, Avi B. Zevin, and Keturah A. Brown
Page 384 Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States
I. Introduction
is chapter discusses t he role of heavy-duty vehicles
(HDVs) and rail in achiev ing deep decarbonization. To
achieve an 80% reduction of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions by 2050, the Deep Decarbonization Pathways
Project (DDPP) states that total (carbon dioxide (CO2))
emissions from the entire transportation sector would
have to be cut between 75% and 100% from a 2014
baseline. For purposes of this chapter, the HDV and
rail industries are de ned based on the denitions and
classications issued by the U.S. Environmental Protec-
tion Agency (EPA).1 It begins with an introduction to
Authors’ Note: e authors would like to thank Steven Boughton, the
George Washington University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2020,
for his assistance in the development of this chapter.
1. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Alternative Fuels Data Center, Vehicle
Weight Classes & Categories (used by EPA and the Federal Highway Admin-
istration), https://www.afdc.energy.gov/data/mobile/10380 (last visited July
4, 2018).
the HDV and rail sectors and the contribution of those
sectors to U.S. GHG emissions. is chapter then shifts
to a discussion of how HDVs and rail transportation are
regulated in the United States, including a discu ssion of
federal and state laws to reduce GHG emissions from this
sector as well as a discussion of laws that impose barriers
to further decarbonization. Finally, this chapter identi-
es amendments to existing federa l, state, and local laws,
regulations, and policies, as well a s private actions, that
may be required to achieve the goals of the DDPP for
HDV and rail freight transportation.
II. Overview of the HDV, Rail, and Freight
e transportation sector consists of both on-road vehi-
cles—light-duty passenger vehicles, HDVs, and motor-
cycles —and o-road vehicles —including aircra ft, mar ine
Chapter 15
Heavy-Duty Vehicles and Freight
by Andrea Hudson Campbell, Avi B. Zevin, and Keturah A. Brown
To achieve an 80% reduction of U.S. GHG emissions by 2050, the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project
reports state that total CO2 emissions from the entire transportation sector would have to be cut between 75%
and 100% from a 2014 baseline. is chapter discusses the role of heavy-duty vehicles and rail in achieving
that goal. Freight transportation results in signicant greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonizing this sector will
require substantial changes to the two primar y means of moving freight within the United States: trucking and
rail. In particular, emission standards that facilitate fuel eciency improvements and conversion to zero- or
near-zero-emission technologies such as electric drivetrain technology, hydrogen, and synthetic gas will likely be
necessary to achieve 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. Moreover, shifting from more
fuel-intensive but more exible transportation modes such as trucking, to more ecient but less exible modes
such as rail can play an important role. In addition to environmental regulation, the signicant infrastructure
requirements of freight transportation will necessitate federal, state, and local nancial investments; changes to
regulatory models to encourage more and more-optimal private-sector infrastructure investment; and streamlin-
ing of permitting and other barriers. To the extent that new or improved infrastructure is required to expand the
rail network or provide fueling or charging infrastructure for advanced technology vehicles, decarbonizing the
transportation sector could result in signicant job creation in the United States.
Page 385
vessels, rail locomotives, and rec-
reational vehicles.2 HDVs and rail
are primari ly responsible for trans-
porting goods (e.g., freight) within
North America; however, they are
also used to transport people (pas-
senger buses and passenger rail).
HDVs are substantially less fuel e-
cient than either passenger vehicles
or rail due to their size, weight, and
cargo capacity. erefore, while they
make up a relatively limited portion
of U.S. transportation, they have an
outsized impact on emissions. Rail,
on the other hand, is relatively e-
cient, but is used less than HDVs,
particularly to transport freight over
shorter distances .
A. HDVs and Heavy-Duty
e HDV sector includes all motor vehicles above 8,500
pounds gross vehicle weight rating (GVW R), which is the
maximum loaded vehicle weight as desig ned by the manu-
facture r.3 ese vehicles are divided into classes based pri-
marily on vehicle weight, as specied in Figure 1.
e most common set of HDVs are heavy-duty c om-
bination tractors—the common semitrucks consisting
of a truck cab pulling a loaded trailer. EPA has further
divided heavy-duty combination tractors into classes,
with Class 7 vehicles bet ween 26,000 and 33,000 pounds
GVWR a nd Class 8 vehicles with GV WR above 33,000
pounds. Vocational vehicle s, such as school and shuttle
buses, garbage trucks, dump trucks, cement truck s, and
delivery vehicles, are also included in the HDV sector
and are further subdivided into Classes 2b-6 based on
GVWR .4 Buses are also considered to be HDVs under
federal emissions regulations. e nal component of
HDVs are heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, which
are classied based on a “work factor” that takes into
consideration the vehicle’s payload, towing capabilities,
and use of four-wheel drive; these vehicles typical ly are
Class 2b-3 HDVs. Some vocational vehicles, heavy-duty
2. EPA, Overview of Air Pollution From Transportation, https://www.epa.gov/
air-pollution-transportation/learn-about-air-pollution-transportation (last
updated May.31, 2018).
4. Id.
pickup trucks, and vans at the lighter end of the HDV
weight range may be referred to as medium-duty vehicles
(MDVs) in certain contexts. However, for the purpose
of emissions regulation, and in this chapter, HDV and
MDV are generally treated the same.
In contrast to the light-duty passenger car industry,
heavy-duty engines are often ma nufactured separately from
the vehicle into which the engine is ultimately incorporated.
A heavy-duty engine is any engine that is used for, or could
be expected to be used for, motive power in an HDV.5
Currently, the vast majority of HDVs and heavy-duty
engines in use in the United States run on diesel f uel. Less
than 0.5% of all heavy-duty trucks a nd buses currently in
use in the United States have been converted to run on com-
pressed natural ga s (CNG) or liqueed natural gas (LNG).6
As shown in Table 1, heav y-duty trucks are a large
and growing portion of the freight transportation sector;
trucks haul 59.9% of all freight in the United States.7 In
2015, trucks moved 10,776 million tons of the more than
17,978 million tons of freight shipped within the United
States.8 Total freight shipments in the United States
are expected to grow 41% by weight and 93% by value
5. Id.
6. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Eciency Standards for Medium- and
Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles—Phase 2, 81 Fed. Reg. 73478, 73928
(Oct. 25, 2016) (codied at 49 C.F.R. §§523, 534, 535, and 538).
7. M J. S  ., U.S. D  T, F
F  F 2017, at 2-1 tbl. 2-1 (2017), available at https://www.
8. Id.
Figure 1
Vehicle Class by Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating ( lbs)
6,000 6,500 10,000 14,000 16,000 19,500 26,000 33,000 60,000
LDV MDPV – – – – –
Urban Bus
1 & 2a
3 & 4bHDV2b HDV3 HDV4 HDV 5 HDV6 HDV7 HDV8a HDV8 b
LDV = light-dut y vehicle; L DT = light-dut y truck; LLDT = lig ht LDT; HLDT = heavy LDT; MDP V =
medium-d uty passenger vehic le; HDE = heavy-d uty engine; HDV = he avy-duty vehicle ; LHDDE = light
heavy-du ty diesel engi ne; MHDDE = m edium heavy-duty die sel engine; H HDDE = heavy heavy-du ty
diesel engine
a LDT 1 if loaded vehic le weight (LVW) = 3,750 ; LDT 2 if LVW > 3,750
b LDT 3 if adjusted lo aded vehicle weight (ALVW ) = 5,750; LDT 4 if ALVW > 5,750
Source: E PA, Vehicle Weig ht Classif‌ications for t he Emission Standards Ref erence Guide, https://www.epa.
gov/emission-standards-reference -guide/vehicle-weight-cla ssif‌ications-emission-standards- reference-
guide (last u pdated Feb. 23, 2017).
Page 386 Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States
between now and 2050, with most growth occurring in
the trucking indu stry.9
HDVs and heavy-duty engines are subject to regulation
by a variety of entities in the United States. EPA regulates
both GHG emissions and emissions of more traditional
pollutants such as particu late matter (PM), nitrogen oxides
(NOx), non-methane hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide
(CO), and formaldehyde from new HDVs and heavy-duty
engines. e National Highway Trac Safety Ad ministra-
tion (NHTSA) administers fuel eciency standards a nd
federal motor vehicle safety standa rds (FMVSS) applicable
to new HDVs. Pursuant to Clean Air Act (CAA) §177, the
California Air Resources Board (CAR B) may also regu-
late emissions from new HDVs and heavy-duty engines if
granted a waiver by EPA, and other states may adopt Cali-
forn ia’s sta nd ar ds.10 EPA rst granted a waiver for Califor-
nia to regulate GHG emissions from light-duty vehicles
under this authority in 2009.11 EPA also approved Califor-
nia’s request for a waiver for its heavy-duty tractor-trailer
and medium- and heavy-duty engine and vehicle GHG
standa rds.12 Individual states may regu late criteria pollut-
ant emissions from in-use HDVs under their CAA state
implementation plan (SIP) designed to attain the national
ambient air quality standa rds (NAAQS). For example,
California has adopted regu lations as part of its ultrane
9. Id. at 2-2 to 2-2 tbls. 2-1, 2-2.
11. California State Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Standards; Notice of Deci-
sion Granting a Waiver of Clean Air Act Preemption for California’s 2009
and Subsequent Model Year Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for New
Motor Vehicles, 74 Fed. Reg. 32744 (July 8, 2009).
12. California State Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Standards; Heavy-Duty
Tractor-Trailer Greenhouse Gas Regulations; Notice of Decision, 79 Fed.
Reg. 46256 (Aug. 7, 2014); California State Motor Vehicle Pollution Control
Standards; Greenhouse Gas Emissions From 2014 and Subsequent Model
Year Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles; Notice of Decision,
81 Fed. Reg. 95982 (Dec. 29, 2016).
PM (PM2.5) SIP to limit
PM emissions from HDVs
operating within the state13;
many other states have
adopted HDV inspec-
tion and maintenance
(I/M) programs under this
authority or pursuant to
their ozone SIPs.14
B. Rail
e U.S. freight rail net-
work consists of more than
140,000 miles of rail oper-
ated by seven Class 1 rail-
roads, dened as systems
with annual operating rev-
enue of $467.1 million or more operating in the United
States; 21 regional railroads, including line-haul railroads
operating at least 350 miles of rail and/or earning between
$40 million and $467 million in operating revenue; and
more than 500 local line-haul railroads manag ing less
than 350 miles of rail and/or with operating revenue of less
than $40 million annually.15 Notably, the U.S. freight rail
system connects with Canada and Mexico, necessitating
consistent technologies and systems across borders. Rai l
shipments accounted for 23% of all trade with Canada a nd
17% of trade with Mexico in 2012 (by value).16
As shown in Table 1, rail shipments make up a substan-
tially smaller fraction of the shipments—both in terms of
the value of goods shipped and the weight of shipments—
as compared to HDVs. For example, whereas trucks moved
10,776 million tons of freight in 2015, 1,602 million tons
of freight were moved by rail in 2015.17 Rail shipments are
expected to grow over the next 30 years at a faster rate
than trucking (73% versus 20%); however, because rail
totals a signica ntly smaller share of goods t ransported, by
2045, rail is still predicted to transport only a fraction of
the goods transported by HDVs.18
13. CARB, Truck and Bus Regulation, https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onrdiesel/
onrdiesel.htm (last reviewed Dec. 14, 2017).
14. See, e.g., New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Heavy
Duty Diesel Vehicle Inspection/Maintenance Program, http://www.dec.ny.gov/
chemical/28892.html (last visited July 3, 2018).
15. S L, U.S. D  T, F
R B (2015), https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/
16. F R A, U.S. D  T-
, U.S. R-C T W C  M (2013), https://
17. M J. S  ., U.S. D  T, F
F  F 2017, at 32-1 to 2-2 tbl. 2-1, 2-2 (2017), available at
18. Id.
Table 1
U.S. Freight Transportation Mode Share
Weig ht
Million Tons
Billion 2012$
2015 2045 2 013 2040
Tru ck 10, 776 (60 %) 18, 691 (50 %) 11, 626 (61 %) 18, 691 (50 %)
Rail 1,602 (9%) 1,918 (8% ) 623 (3% ) 1,077 (3%)
Water 884 (5%) 1,100 (4 %) 596 (3%) 973 (3%)
Air 10 (0 %) 37 (0 %) 1,178 (6 %) 5 ,085 (14%)
Multimodal 1,3 46 (8% ) 2,9 62 (12% ) 3,5 90 (19% ) 9,155 (25%)
Pipeline 3, 326 (19% ) 4,46 8 (18%) 1,450 (8%) 1,721 ( 5%)
Other 33 (0 %) 31 ( 0%) 83 (0% ) 325 (1%)
Tot al 17, 978 25, 346 19,146 3 7,0 26
tbl. 2-1, 2-2 (2017), available at https://w ww.bts.gov/sites/bts.dot.gov/f‌iles/docs/ FFF_2017.pdf.

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