President Donald Trump’s pick to replace deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein could bolster Administration efforts to roll back or delay Obama-era pollution rules affecting the trucking sector.
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) deputy secretary Jeffrey Rosen, who was nominated earlier this week by President Trump to replace Rosenstein as second in command at the U.S. Department of Justice, oversees DOT’s deregulatory efforts as the department’s “Regulatory Reform Officer.”
In that role, Rosen was influential in working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) over the last two years in scaling back fuel efficiency standards put in place by President Obama in 2016, according to a Washington Post report in 2018.
In addition to issuing a new rulemaking in August 2018 that would freeze 2020 fuel efficiency and emissions standards through 2026 for cars and light-duty vehicles, EPA and NHTSA were successful in placing a hold last summer on Phase 2 emission and fuel-efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks until EPA could develop a new proposal.
The Phase 2 standards estimated vehicle owners could save an estimated $170 billion in fuel costs, and that a buyer of a long-haul truck in 2027 would recoup the extra technology costs through fuel savings in less than two years.
The rule has been opposed by the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, which asserted that EPA lacks authority to regulate the non-engine parts of vehicles.
EPA also announced last summer that it had placed an “enforcement pause” on Phase 2 production limits for glider truck kits to give it time to reconsider the rule. Glider trucks, which are remanufactured engines combined with new cabs and chassis frames, can be 25 percent less expensive than new truck cabs, which can cost up to $200,000 or more, and can help independent truck owners compete with larger trucking companies. A Congressional inquiry into the legality of EPA’s glider truck enforcement changes is pending.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rosen’s influence over EPA issues could increase, as the Justice Department works closely with EPA in holding companies accountable for environmental compliance.
Rosen worked as general counsel at DOT under Secretary Norman Mineta from 2003 to 2006, and was senior policy advisor for the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2006 to 2009. Previous to his current position he was a partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis.