Washington Report: Electric Concrete Pumps?

by Patty Power, ACPA Washington Advocate

Late last month, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published proposed greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty truck emissions for model year 2027 through 2032. EPA emission standards apply to concrete pumps nationwide. These new “Phase 3” standards build on the “Phase 2” standards established in 2016.

According to the EPA: “These ‘Phase 3’ greenhouse gas standards would significantly reduce carbon emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and, through the increased use of zero-emission vehicle technology projected in the proposal, would also reduce emissions of smog and soot-forming pollutants and help to address the challenges of global climate change and air pollution in communities near major roadways.”

“EPA emission standards represent a challenge to concrete pumpers.“

EPA explained further: “The proposed Phase 3 program maintains the flexible structure created in the Phase 2 greenhouse gas program, which is effectively designed to reflect the diverse nature of the heavy-duty industry.”

In addition, EPA opens the door for flexible implementation: “The proposed standards do not mandate the use of a specific technology. EPA expects internal combustion engine and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technologies will both play important roles in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Like the Phase 2 greenhouse gas program, these standards include emission standards that are differentiated by vehicle type and use.”

ACPA is closely monitoring this EPA rulemaking. During the first week of May, ACPA participated in a virtual public hearing to express the challenges concrete pump companies would face if these more stringent standards were applied so soon.

Our truck manufacturers tell us that while they are developing new technology to power their vehicles with alternative energy sources, they do not expect to be able to bring the new technology to the market in time to meet these proposed Phase 3 standards. Concrete pump companies depend on our truck manufacturers to meet the standards, and because they cannot, ACPA opposed this rulemaking.

The Challenges

ACPA delivered the message that concrete pumpers see this proposed rule as a direct threat to our ability to operate our businesses. We also described the challenges we face, including:

First, we are concerned about access to the technology needed by the truck manufacturers to meet the standards in the time allowed in the proposed rule. Pump truck manufacturers do not have EV technology, but they are working on it. However, the proposed rule does not give them enough time to deliver compliant vehicles.

Second, replacing the diesel engines with electric batteries will add significant weight to operating concrete pumps. Our operators are concerned that a heavier electric-powered concrete pump would not be able to access all job sites because it could exceed road and bridge weight limits.

Third, as mobile machinery, concrete pumps travel to job sites daily. Our members are concerned about access to charging stations and the potential delay caused by the need to recharge the batteries on the road and at job sites. This is particularly concerning for operators serving rural areas.

Fourth, concrete is a perishable product. There is a limited amount of time available to safely place the concrete delivered to the concrete pump hopper from the ready mixed concrete truck. Losing power during a pour can lead to unsafe operating conditions caused by concrete hardening in the boom, and ultimately can threaten the integrity of the pump and placing boom.

Looking Ahead

ACPA is working with our industry partners, including the American Trucking Associations and the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. We will continue to work with EPA to ensure that they understand how the concrete pumping industry works.

In addition to EPA-proposed rulemaking to make heavy-duty truck greenhouse gas emission standards significantly more stringent, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the “Advanced Clean Fleets” regulation. This firstof- its-kind air pollution regulation applies to on-road heavyduty trucks. This new CARB rule requires fleet owners to begin to transition toward zero-emission vehicles, starting in 2024. The rule allows existing vehicles to operate through their useful life. Fleets must come into compliance between 2035 and 2042, depending on their California classification.

While the CARB rule will only apply to fleets in California, historically, the California vehicle market is large enough to push environmental compliance nationwide. The CARB rule will test whether the technology targets and deadlines are achievable in California and nationally under the EPA standards.

ACPA will continue to advocate on behalf of all of our members on this issue. More to come on emissions in the future.

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