On Oct. 27, the California Air Resources Board met to consider a proposed regulation that will result in higher prices for everything that’s moved by truck in California, higher local taxes and fees, and higher utility rates.
“Today the board will hear staff’s proposed Advanced Clean Fleets regulation,” CARB chair Liane M. Randolph said cheerfully as she opened the meeting. The new rule would forcefully phase in the required purchase of zero-emission trucks. It would apply to operators of private fleets with 50 or more trucks, to federal fleets and to any business with gross annual revenue of $50 million or more. It would also apply to drayage trucks that operate from ports and railyards, and to state and local government fleets. And starting in 2040 it would completely ban the sale in California of any truck that was not 100% zero emission.
Although Californians have just gone to the polls to elect representatives in the state Assembly and Senate, that may have been a complete waste of time. This mandate comes to us by executive order of Gov. Gavin Newsom, implemented by the unelected bureaucrats at the California Air Resources Board.
CARB chair Randolph ticked off a list of two decades of new regulations on diesel engines that she said “have substantially reduced criteria pollutants and diesel particulate matter from trucks operating within California.” But the goal posts have been moved. “Meeting California’s public health, air quality, environmental justice and climate goals requires more emissions reductions than we can get from combustion-based strategies,” she said.
So, to every truck, bus and heavy equipment owner who took on crushing debt to comply with CARB’s volumes of regulatory mandates, just for permission to stay in business, California sure fooled you!
“To meet our goals, we need to transition all feasible applications to zero emission vehicles as soon as possible through policy actions and regulatory measures adopted by this board,” Randolph declared.
“Feasible,” the dictionary says, means “possible to do easily or conveniently,” but that’s not what it means in California. Here, “feasible” is a winking word added to aspirational goals when they’re written into state law without an economic analysis or any means of paying for them. Regulators take over from there, and suddenly “feasible” just means “forced.”
Randolph said the Advanced Clean Fleets regulation builds on the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation “by ensuring that there is demand for the vehicles that our advanced clean trucks manufacturers are required to sell.” She was bursting with pride over the whole scheme. “The proposed regulation contains a first-in-the-world zero emission sales requirement for all medium and heavy duty vehicles starting in 2040,” she said, “That sends a clear signal to end the sales of new medium and heavy duty combustion vehicles.”
Unfortunately, “a clear signal” does not deliver goods, pick up trash, drive to remote locations to repair utility lines or haul heavy equipment. Trucks do that.
The Western States Trucking Association called the proposed regulation “a new unfunded mandate for which there is inadequate legal authority, financial resources, infrastructure and electric grid reliability.”
The California Alliance for Jobs and Rebuild SoCal Partnership, representing thousands of heavy construction companies and contractors and tens of thousands of union workers, called CARB’s proposal “rigid,” “not based on real-world conditions,” and likely to have “devastating consequences to the California economy.”
California Caterpillar dealers pointed out that electric charging infrastructure for heavy construction equipment is non-existent at remote locations “and there is no solution to address this.” The U.S. Postal Service said the rule risked disrupting mail delivery in California. The U.S. Department of Defense said the timelines were not workable. A coalition of 42 organizations questioned whether the vehicles would even be available for purchase and objected to what it called a “reverse rulemaking” that required regulated entities to prove technological infeasibility in order to be granted an exemption.
In its central-planning arrogance, CARB says the “primary goal” of the regulation is to “accelerate the market.”
But at what cost, and at whose expense?
At the October 27 hearing, a representative of the California Public Utilities Commission volunteered that “utility ratepayers will cover the costs of the utility side upgrades” for “new EV load customers who have separately metered EV charging load and are not in single family homes.” Your electric bill will go up, again, to pay for utility infrastructure to accommodate the electricity demand of zero emission trucks.
Who’s going to pay for local governments to replace municipal utility vehicles, including heavy trash trucks? In written comments submitted to CARB, the city of Sacramento predicted that “with the increased cost of vehicles and installing infrastructure, local municipalities will be forced to increase rates and taxes.”
Who’s going to pay for new trucks to move farm products around the state and to transport goods that arrive at seaports or railyards? You’ll pay some of that cost through higher prices, along with those higher utility bills and local tax increases.
California’s war on truckers is a sad chapter in the state’s history. “I am a single truck owner making ends meet and raising a family of five,” wrote Inderjit Saini in comments to CARB about the proposed regulation. “In 2010 we were told to install a $15,000 retrofit filter….Two years later we were told that our truck was no longer operable and we had to purchase a more recent engine model….We had to rebuild the motor and placed over $13,000 on our credit card to start working. Here we are again eight years later having to purchase another truck. Each and every time we reached out for financial assistance and each time we were told that there were no more funds available….Sitting at a desk and creating these heroic laws to save the world sound great on paper, however has anyone sat down and thought of the financial effects on those that suffer the financial burdens?”
The new legislative session begins on Monday. Look up your representatives’ contact information at findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov and ring the phones off the hook with that question.
Write Susan@susanShelley.com and follow her on Twitter @Susan_Shelley