New restrictions on diesel trucks starts January 1. A rush to buy new diesel trucks is underway.
California’s Zero-Emissions Rule Triggers a Run on Diesel Rigs
The Wall Street Journal reports California’s Zero-Emissions Rule Triggers a Run on Diesel Rigs
The California rule will phase out the use of diesel trucks until the more than 30,000 diesel big rigs that now serve the state’s ports are banned by 2035.
The regulation is already proving a challenge for truckers across California, from the agricultural export hub at the Port of Oakland to the nation’s busiest gateway for containerized imports at the Southern California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Trucking executives say the state’s regulators are getting far out in front of the industry’s ability to deliver zero-emission rigs.
The technology underpinning electric vehicles is still developing, they say, and the zero-emission trucks are triple the cost of diesel trucks, while the vehicles and charging stations are in limited supply. “I have to think every trucker in California is doing all they can to get as many pre-mandate trucks in place as they possibly can,” said Kenny Vieth, president of ACT Research.
Production of the [electric] vehicles is so limited and the cost and complexity of running the trucks so high that there are fewer than 150 zero-emission trucks in service at the Southern California ports today, said Matt Schrap, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association trade group. The most advanced of those trucks, say trucking executives, can’t travel more than a few hundred miles between charges, so they can only run short trips between ports and nearby rail yards and warehouses.
The electric trucks themselves are also proving a problem. Nikola and Volvo Trucks North America this summer recalled trucks because of defective parts thought to pose a fire risk. Jim Gillis, president of port trucker Pacific Drayage Services, said he is on his third recall since receiving six Volvo electric trucks in January. Gillis said that when a diesel truck needs repair it is usually in the shop for three to four days. When a $400,000 electric truck is recalled it is usually out of action for longer. “That’s an expensive asset to lose for three to four weeks,” he said.
Manufacturers and California Reach a Deal
On July 6, Cal Matters reported California and Manufacturers Strike Deal Over Zero-Emission Trucks.
California and major truck manufacturers announced a deal today that would avoid a legal battle over the state’s landmark mandate phasing out diesel big rigs and other trucks.
In return, the Air Resources Board will relax some near-term requirements for trucks to reduce emissions of a key ingredient of smog to more closely align with new federal standards.
The powerful Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association as well as 10 manufacturers, including Cummins, Inc., Daimler Truck North America, Volvo Group North America and Navistar, Inc. signed on to the deal.
What About the Truckers?
How nice of the manufacturers and the state to come to an agreement. But it seems like they left the truckers, especially the small independents, out of the discussion.
How many of them can afford to pay two or three times as much for a truck?
Once again, note the huge inflationary madness that the tag team of Biden and California have brought the nation.
‘Impossible’ and ‘Likely to Fail’
“The amount of chaos and dysfunction that is going to be created by this rule will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” Chris Shimoda, senior vice president of the California Trucking Association, an industry trade group, told CalMatters. “The likelihood that it is going to fail pretty spectacularly is very high. It’s very unfortunate.”
Trucking companies and local government officials call the deadlines in the rule unachievable. They say the new technology still has major drawbacks, including the high cost of electric trucks and their low vehicle range. The state also has not yet developed a charging network to support electric trucks, and the existing chargers can take hours to recharge, industry officials say.
Under the proposal, in 2036, 100% of new sales of medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks must be zero emissions in California, scaling up from phased-in timelines that vary by the type of truck. The rules also would force companies that operate 50 or more trucks to gradually convert their fleets into electric or hydrogen models, reaching 100% zero-emissions by 2042, with these timelines also based on the type of truck.
The earliest requirements would be for drayage trucks, which carry cargo to and from the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland and cause severe air pollution in nearby communities. All of them must be converted to electric models by 2035, and new sales beginning in 2024 must be zero emissions.
“There are many of us in the drayage industry that run our trucks 400 plus miles a day,” Cory Peters, chief financial officer of Best Drayage, a trucking company based in the Central Valley, told the board. “Currently, there is no zero-emission truck available today that can make that trip. You are requiring that all new drayage trucks be zero emissions starting in less than nine months from now. This will have a devastating effect on Central Valley shippers who rely on getting their goods to the rest of the world.”
Local governments call the deadlines ‘impossible’
It’s not just the trucking industry that is vehemently opposed. Local governments are opposed, too, since they own truck fleets. With some exceptions, half of the specified truck purchases for public agencies must be zero emissions by 2024, ramping up to 100% by 2027.
“The vehicles don’t exist, the infrastructure does not exist, grid reliability is sketchy, there’s nothing to protect public agencies from price gouging,” said the League of California Cities and State association of Counties in a letter to the air board.
It’s the Golden State’s Special Powers that allowed this bargain.
For decades, California has relied on the bureaucratic equivalent of a superpower: It has had special federal permission to make tougher air regulations than the U.S. government.
The origin of this dates back to the smog that began choking Los Angeles in the 1940s.
So when changes to the Clean Air Act decades ago stopped individual states from making their own tailpipe emissions rules, California got a pass. If California’s rules are just as tough, or tougher, than the federal ones, the EPA must grant it a waiver. There are only a few specific circumstances when the EPA can deny the waiver, including if it decides California is being “arbitrary and capricious,” or that California doesn’t actually need the waiver to address “compelling and extraordinary conditions.”
California still needs to ask the EPA for a waiver whenever it wants to make new rules for vehicle exhaust or change existing rules on the books. The state has received dozens of these waivers, covering everything from refrigerated truck trailers to ships at berth in California ports.
Obama sided with California in disputes. Trump reversed Obama. And then Biden promptly reversed Trump.
I suggest this needs to go to the Supreme Court which hopefully will put an end to this silliness.
It’s not that I am a big fan of diesel. In fact, I am no diesel fan at all. But you cannot double or triple costs on the industry when the infrastructure is not even in place.
If the manufacturers want to make a deal with the devil, OK fine. But the costs better not be prohibitive to the truckers.
Unfortunately, the independent truckers are trapped in this Faustian bargain they were not even a part of.
It would be more than a bit fitting if the truckers responded by refusing to make deliveries in California. Let that message roar 10-4.
Huge Backlash Against Climate Change Has Started
The backlash cannot hit Biden and the state of California fast enough.