Senate Votes to Overturn Biden Admin’s Truck Emissions Rule, With Support From Manchin

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
April 26, 2023Politicsshare
Senate Votes to Overturn Biden Admin’s Truck Emissions Rule, With Support From Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, presides over a hearing on battery technology, at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Sept. 22, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The Senate passed a resolution on Wednesday to overturn a heavy-duty engines emissions rule implemented by President Joe Biden’s administration after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) broke ranks with his fellow Democrats and instead joined Republicans in opposition to the emissions rule.

In December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the new “Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards,” which placed more stringent emissions standards over a “wider range of heavy-duty engine operating conditions.” The new rule was set to go into effect in March, but Republicans have been preparing to oppose the regulations through a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.).

Fischer’s joint resolution passed in the Senate by a vote of 50–49.

Just hours before the vote, Manchin announced that he would back the Republicans-led resolution to overturn the EPA rule.

“The last couple of years have shown that truck drivers keep our country moving. However, the Biden Administration wants to burden the trucking industry with oppressive regulations that will increase prices by thousands of dollars and push truck drivers and small trucking companies out of business,” said Manchin, a moderate Democrat who has repeatedly been at odds with Biden-era environmental policies.

“When our country faces record-high inflation and vulnerable supply chains, we cannot let the EPA continue to seize unrestrained power and create regulations that devastate our economy,” Manchin continued. “I am proud to support this resolution to stop this government overreach.”

The resolution now moves on to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Even if the House also passes the resolution, Biden could veto the bill. It is less likely then, that both the House and the Senate would be able to garner enough support to override Biden’s veto.

EPA Says Rule Would Save Lives

The EPA has justified the new engine regulations, arguing that they will reduce emissions from nitrogen oxides, resulting in improved health conditions for people living in the United States.

The agency estimated that there would be between 860 and 2,900 fewer premature deaths annually by 2045 as a result of a reduction in harmful emissions from heavy-duty engines. The agency also estimated there would be 6,700 fewer hospital admissions and emergency department visits annually and 18,000 fewer cases of childhood asthma each year by 2045.

Fischer has argued that the regulations would actually achieve the opposite of the EPA’s intended effect, because the rule only applies to new heavy-duty highway engines and thus “incentivizes operators to keep using older, higher-emitting trucks for longer.” That assessment was echoed by Todd Spencer, who serves as the president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“If small business truckers can’t afford the new, compliant trucks, they’re going to stay with older, less efficient trucks, or leave the industry entirely,” Spencer said in a press statement on Wednesday. “Once again, EPA has largely ignored the warnings and concerns raised by truckers in this latest rule.”

Manchin, Biden at Odds on Environmental Policies

Manchin—a Democrat who represents a state that is both heavily Republican and heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry—has broken ranks with the Biden administration and other Democrats on a number of environmental issues.

In February 2021, Manchin urged Biden to reverse course after the president voted to rescind permits for the Keystone XL pipeline.

In February of this year, Manchin joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in crafting a bill that would block the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from banning gas stoves.

In March, Manchin urged the EPA to refrain from implementing new emissions standards for power plants, arguing that the rules would prematurely close those plants and render the U.S. energy grid less reliable while driving up energy prices.

After the Biden administration decided to allow a limited version of an Alaskan oil drilling proposal to go forward, Manchin defended the Biden administration from criticism by his fellow Democrats.

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