Iowa Joins Suits Trying To Block Rules Designed To Phase Out Diesel-Powered Semis

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa is among a group of states suing the State of California and the Biden Administration over rules that critics say will force the trucking industry to convert to electric semis before the power grid can support the transition. Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird says it’s the worst nightmare for the supply chain.

Two dozen states, including Iowa, are going to court to try to block EPA rules about emissions from semi tractors’ stacks. A separate legal action involving Iowa and 17 other states is challenging California’s plan to require zero carbon emissions from semis operating in California that come from trucking companies with over 50 trucks. That rule would go into effect in 2036. Iowa Motor Truck Association chairman Scott Szymanek is president of Stutsman, Incorporated, a trucking company based in the small town of Hills, near Iowa City. He says the trucking industry cannot convert to electric semis as quickly as the regulations require.

Szymanek says renewable diesel fuel has a lower carbon footprint over its life cycle when compared to battery-operated trucks. Dale Decker, the CEO of Decker Truck Line, says his company has been testing electric trucks at their facility in Fort Dodge, but Decker says sending battery-powered semis out on the highways is unrealistic.

The US Supreme Court recently ruled California can enforce animal welfare rules related to pork that’s produced elsewhere, but sold in California. Bird says she’s disappointed in that ruling, but the attorneys general will argue, as they did in the pork-related case, that California’s rule is a violation of the US Constitution’s interstate commerce clause.

Bird says there are other legal precedents directly related to cases involving the trucking industry that support the effort to block California’s ‘clean fleet’ trucking rules. California officials have said while only six percent of the vehicles on California roads are trucks, those trucks account for a quarter of the state’s transportation-generated greenhouse gas emissions.