Governor Bill Graves, president & CEO of the American Trucking Assns. (ATA), revealed that the industry lobby is “working diligently to help smooth out the transition to ‘07 engines” for motor carriers.

“ATA is working to develop a strategy that would potentially assist [truck] buyers [faced with ordering new EPA-compliant engines in 2007] to avoid a pre-buy followed by a no-buy,” Graves said, as happened the last time EPA mandated lower-emission engines. He made the remarks last month at a media dinner presented by Hendrickson International in Oakbrook, IL.

Graves explained that right now ATA has committee groups of users and suppliers “looking at the '07 issue, including the incentive side. But no decision on an approach has yet been reached.”

He said that the idea to pursue such relief for fleets was inspired by a study done by the General Accounting Office of the U.S. Congress.

“There's nothing yet we have committed [to pursue],” Graves added, “but I am not sure I can think of another way we can influence the buying pattern before '07.”

Graves noted that besides benefiting trucking, it also is in the national interest to avoid pre-buying “so there are more cleaner trucks on the road” sooner.

On the matter of hours-of-service (HOS) rules having been thrown out by a federal court, Graves said ATA favors continuing with the current rules.

“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is in a difficult spot,” he said. “The court indicated they had not provided evidence to support their conclusions in the rule. FMCSA needs adequate time to respond and we expect the them to ask for an extension to do so.

“ATA would then review that response,” Graves continued. “There's a short window of opportunity to resolve issues about hours of service.

“But trucking and the states have invested millions in complying with the new rule, ” he pointed out. “Going back to the old rule is not an option for the industry.”

Graves also reported that reauthorization of federal surface transportation funding legislation is “moving at a snail's pace and will likely be put off till after the presidential election.”