By Nathan Worcester
The House voted on May 23 to overturn the Biden administration’s rule on heavy-duty vehicles’ tailpipe emissions, the latest knock against the president’s environmental agenda in a closely divided Congress and the forerunner to an expected Biden veto.
The short piece of legislation would roll back a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for trucks in December 2022.
The rule, which can be read here, “sets stronger emissions standards to further reduce air pollution, including pollutants that create ozone and particulate matter, from heavy-duty vehicles and engines starting in model year 2027,” according to the EPA.
Heavy-duty vehicles are those with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) above 8,500 pounds. Heavier light-duty pickup trucks such as the Ford F-250 and the Chevy Silverado 2500 have GVWRs that top out above that, as do even heavier pickups like the Ford F-350.
It follows a Biden executive order and the administration’s “Clean Trucks Plan.” Proposals for vehicle tailpipe emissions released in April are likewise intended to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. transportation sector.
The legislation passed the House 221-203. Four Democrats crossed the aisle to join 217 Republicans in backing the measure.
The legislation is one half of a joint resolution that passed through the Senate in April, emerging unscathed from a narrow 50-49 vote.
If President Joe Biden vetoes it, backers would need two-thirds majorities in both chambers to overcome his opposition. That’s an unlikely scenario.
Lawmakers Back and Forth
In remarks before the passage of the House resolution, Republicans voiced their concerns over the rule’s practicality and downstream effects.
Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), who spearheaded efforts in the House, said the EPA’s regulation “will significantly increase the costs of heavy-duty vehicles.”
“Woke bureaucrats in Washington are on a climate justice crusade,” he said.
“President Biden is shamelessly pushing electrification of the entire transportation sector without regard for the significant environmental, economic, and national security risk it will cause,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Democrats touted the supposed benefits of the EPA’s actions, which they claim will significantly reduce harmful pollution traceable to nitrogen oxides in a technologically and economically feasible manner.
“This rule is completely achievable. That’s why industry is generally supportive,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the ranking member of Rodgers’ energy committee.
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-Mich.), another committee member, said the EPA’s rule would lead to “fewer premature deaths, fewer hospital visits, fewer missed days of school and work, and yes, fewer cases of childhood asthma.”
Veto Would Continue a Biden Trend
Biden’s anticipated veto would mark the latest such action by the president to shield his work on energy, the environment, and climate from Republican-led joint resolutions.
On May 16, he took down legislation to restore tariffs on some solar panels traceable to China.
In April, Biden vetoed a measure that would have overturned his new water rule.
And, in March, the first veto of Biden’s presidency concerned environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. He took aim at a joint resolution against ESG investing by pension fund managers.