New EPA greenhouse gas standards requiring steep emissions reductions for heavy-duty trucks and buses don’t have the same buy-in from the industry enjoyed by the agency’s rule on cars and medium-duty vehicles released about a week earlier.

As with the previous rule, EPA said the standards are neutral as to technology and “performance-based,” allowing each manufacturer to choose the suite of emissions control technologies that will “meet the standards and the needs of their customers,” EPA said in a fact sheet.

Compliance can be achieved “with a diverse range of heavy-duty vehicle technologies, including advanced internal combustion engine vehicles, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.”

The American Trucking Associations, however, said the rule announced Friday includes “unachievable targets and will carry real consequences for the U.S. supply chain and movement of freight throughout the economy.”

ATA acknowledged that EPA’s final rule slows down the phase-in period for model years 2027-2029, but that after 2029, “forced zero-emission vehicle penetration rates in the later years will drive only battery-electric and hydrogen investment, limiting fleets' choices with early-stage technology that is still unproven.”

Transportation is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. with 29%; heavy-duty vehicles emit a quarter of the pollutants in the sector.

On the other side: The Union of Concerned Scientists said the rule is not an EV mandate and that overall, “the rule’s structure still diminishes its ability to guarantee the deployment of zero-emission trucks.”

Senate Dems look to reform H-2A program

Nine Senate Democrats are making another run at reforming the H-2A program after struggling to get a similar measure passed in 2022.

The lawmakers, led by Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, have reintroduced the Affordable and Secure Food Act, which would allow H-2A visas for year-round jobs, as well as adjusting the program’s application process and providing more protections for workers.

It would also create a program for workers to earn a path to a green card after working in agriculture for 10 years and create a “mandatory, nationwide electronic verification system” for agricultural employment.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, Peter Welch of Vermont and John Hickenlooper of Colorado also signed onto the measure.  

The White House Easter Egg Roll is set for today around the theme of EGG-ucation where participants will learn about the journey that eggs follow from hen to home. About 40,000 people are expected to participate and enjoy 64,000 eggs donated by the American Egg Board – a tradition first started in 1878. 

2024 White House Easter Egg Roll.jpgAlso at the White House: In partnership with the National Guard and on behalf of America’s egg farmers, the “Colonnade of Eggs” exhibit features eggs designed by children from National Guard families across the country. (White House photograph by Erin Scott).
Work to clear wreckage of Francis Scott Key bridge begins in earnest

Demolition crews are working to remove the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after the span’s collapse, though it’s unclear when the waterway will reopen to vessels.

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Members of the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Transportation Authority, Maryland State Police and Synergy Marine on Saturday began cutting the top portion of the north side of the collapsed bridge with help from a 650-ton crane and a 330-ton crane, according to an update from the organizations.

Vessels are still barred from entering and exiting the Port of Baltimore, though trucks are still being processed inside of the port’s marine terminals, according to a press release. "There is a lot of speculation as to when the channel will be reopened,” the port said in the release. "The fact of the matter is we do not know.”

Why it matters: Although not a major port for ag commodities, the port has become “the leading U.S. port for importing combines, tractors, hay balers, excavators, and backhoes,” Dean Croke, principal industry analyst at DAT Freight & Analytics, told Bloomberg News.

Consumer Federation conference focuses on FDA reorganization

The Consumer Federation of America’s annual Food Policy Conference kicks off Tuesday in Washington with a discussion on the Food and Drug Administration’s plan to improve its oversight of the U.S. food supply.

Proponents of the plan say it will make FDA’s operation “more accountable and responsive in the event of a crisis,” CFA says, but stakeholders wonder whether it goes far enough.

Jim Jones, deputy commissioner for human foods, will deliver the keynote address Tuesday morning, followed by a panel featuring Barbara Kowalcyk, director of the Food Health Policy Institute at George Washington University; Peter Lurie, president and executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Roberta Wagner, senior vice president, regulatory and scientific affairs, at the International Dairy Foods Association.

Chavez family asks RFK Jr. to stop using Cesar Chavez images, name

The family of late farmworker organizer Cesar Chavez has asked presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to stop invoking the late civil rights leader’s name and using his likeness in his campaign.

Fernando and Paul Chavez, sons of Cesar Chavez, endorsed President Joe Biden on Friday. In a letter to Kennedy, Fernando asked him to stop using images such as the candidate’s father visiting Chavez when he ended a 25-day hunger strike in 1968, and RFK Jr., helping carry Chavez’s casket in 1993.

“We take offense at the use of such sacred moments purely for political purposes,” the letter said, according to The Washington Post.

In widely reported comments over the weekend, granddaughter Julie Chavez Rodriguez, who is Biden’s campaign manager, said the fact that her grandfather's bust sits in the Oval Office is “a reminder that President Biden understands the power of organizing and working people and recognizes the impact of my grandfather's legacy to continue to mobilize our communities into action."