The business sessions at the 2024 American Truck Dealers (ATD) Show in Las Vegas concluded Saturday with a rundown of the issues ATD and its industry partners are advocating for in Washington, D.C.
As expected, emission regulations dominated the discussion. Bill Sullivan, executive vice president for Advocacy with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) kicked off the session.
Sullivan spoke of how the ATA supported EPA’s Phase 2 greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards when they were enacted last decade and said ATA, NADA/ATD and commercial trucking can be constructive in working with regulators who want to enact reasonable goals. He said the problem is there’s not enough reason in the decisions being made at the EPA or in California anymore.
Sullivan said regulations have to be durable. They must include achievable timelines and be written in a way where manufacturers can meet regulations while also producing equipment industry wants to adopt, and can realistically afford. He said ATA has been active in dialogue with EPA regarding Phase 3 (which the agency hopes to finalize this spring) and said it is vital the agency produces a plan that reasonably follows Phase 2 instead of copying the aggressive regulations being pushed in California.
“Silly regulations that are virtue signaling and zealous, they don’t last,” he said. Sullivan also noted while some states still intend to implement CARB regulations at later dates, three other states have abandoned their plans to follow CARB due to a lack of legislative support.
“The momentum is coming back toward legislators,” he said.
Mike Kastner, senior vice president at NTEA, and Michael Harrington, vice president of Legislative Affairs, NADA, also spoke in regard to CARB regulations. Both agreed with Sullivan of the importance of industry producing a united front to address regulators at the state and federal level to push for cost effective, measured changes that can be achieved. Harrington said if the EPA follows CARB’s lead, or simply refuses to listen to industry, the regulations it could enact will be hugely disruptive.
“How much regulation can the trucking industry bear in such a short period of time?” he asked. “These are not little changes, these are transformative.”
Federal excise tax also earned some time in the limelight Saturday, with all three panelists calling for its repeal. Kastner’s been involved with excise tax removal coalitions since the 1980s and said, “Honestly, this is the best opportunity I’ve seen for it [to be repealed in 30 years.”
The panel was mixed on the best path to doing so. Harrington said NADA is educating Congress in hopes of removing it from the Highway bill when it is up for reauthorization in 2025.
“We need to make the case that it’s time to get rid of this tax,” he said.
Sullivan was more bullish, saying ATA believes the tax could be removed during Congress’ lame duck season later this year.
Other issues discussed Saturday catalytic converter, diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) and diesel particulate filter (DPF) anti-theft legislation, and the Repair Act. Harrington said NADA and ATD have bipartisan support in both houses of Congress for the former and believe a law could be passed as soon as this year that would aggressively punish theft of the equipment and make the technology traceable so law enforcement can better track down stolen goods.
Regarding the Repair Act, Harrington said NADA and ATD are against the House bill. He said the bill is being marketed as something that will give codes to independent repairers but said “that problem was addressed many years ago” with an MOU.
He said NADA/ATD believes component those pushing for the Repair Act want OEMs to have to give codes to aftermarket parts manufacturers, who will reengineer OEM components to sell in the aftermarket. He said NADA/ATD supports the amendment to remove medium- and heavy-duty from the House bill, adding, “in the Senate there is no bill, which kind of tells you about the merits of this bill.”