Trucking companies charge you to poison you with gas instead of saving you money

Truckers are suing the state of California in federal court because they don’t want to save themselves money by switching to electric trucks, trying to preserve their ability to continue forcing toxins into your lungs and the lungs of their workers.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this year by the California Air Resources Board against California’s Advanced Clean Fleet Act. It has since been adopted by 10 other states, as seen in California’s clean air regulations.

The ambitious, world-first proposal sets high standards for the electrification of commercial fleets and bans sales of new diesel cars by 2036, in favor of more narrow applications in the past. For example, the drag trucks that transport cargo from ports to distribution centers and are responsible for poor air quality in California’s Inland Empire must switch to all-electric power by the end of this year.

It’s a supplement to California’s Advanced Clean Cars Act, which was completed in 2020 and is focused on the manufacturing side, ensuring that manufacturers produce enough electric cars for the profit fleet after the rule goes into effect.

And sure enough, when it came time to finalize the fleet rule, growth in ZEV truck availability had gone so well that California felt confident setting high targets for the fleet rule.

Watt's Port Long Beach Electric Truck Charge Warehouse
Watavi opened the US’s largest public car charging depot in CA earlier this year

The result is a regulation that will save Californians $26.5 billion in health care costs and save fleets $48 billion due to lower fuel and maintenance costs. Those health savings come from thousands of deaths, hospitalizations, and ER visits for heart and lung disease.

And that doesn’t include other environmental benefits, such as reducing noise pollution and protecting California’s wildlife and wilderness areas, sources of biodiversity and tourism dollars, and important pollinators for California’s massive agriculture industry.

While lifetime costs for electric cars are significantly lower, up-front costs can be high – currently, most electric commercial vehicles cost 2-3x more than their non-electric counterparts, although this is expected to ease significantly within a decade. Current prices can cause sticker shock for flights, but significant incentives are available at both the state and federal levels.

For example, Daimler’s new RIZON Class 4-5 truck qualifies for a $60,000 incentive from the state of California (which is also available to other brands) in addition to a $40,000 federal incentive as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. Then there are additional incentives for certain vehicle classes, such as free school buses for school districts.

Instead of amending the rule, the CTA will sue

But despite all these savings, the California Trucking Association, a trade group representing truck operators, has decided not to participate in making the rules better, instead filing a permanent lawsuit in federal court to prevent the state from protecting its residents’ health and pocketbooks. , and even represented truck companies.

We spoke with Guillermo Ortiz of the Natural Resources Conservation Council, who said this vessel law has been in the works for several years and that stakeholders have been heavily involved in the process. Even after the completion of the regulation, some industries sat at the table with the state to adjust the regulation and reach an agreement.

The Motor Manufacturers Association, a separate trade group representing truck manufacturers (including EV trucks Volvo and Daimler), which has made several anti-electric statements, initially opposed the law. But it has struck a deal with the government that it calls the “Clean Trucks Partnership.” In exchange for some changes that will ensure regulatory stability and compliance with federal low-NOx guidelines, EMA now supports CARB.

daimler electric trucks lineup
Daimler has a wide range of electric cars and we drive them all.

Ortiz indicated that compliance with the regulation has arrived faster than expected. CARB says ZEV truck supply is roughly double projected 2024 requirements and sales are nearly two years ahead of schedule — suggesting the rule may be stronger than expected.

So the CTA is complaining about a rule that already makes it easier for fleets to comply. And instead of going the more mature route that the EMA did – sitting at the table and trying to come up with a workable solution – the CTA instead jumped straight to the federal court.

The choice to file in federal court is interesting. This shows that the CTA has a chance for the locally aggressive US “Supreme” Court to eventually issue yet another ruling that hates human life and upholds US law and flies in the face of need. The people. But it’s no wonder that more than half of the groups, democratically appointed or confirmed with the help of millions in bribes from the oil industry, feel their mission to help the evil industry is inescapable. who bought them their seats.

The filing in federal court is also intended to have a chilling effect on the EPA’s upcoming “Tier 3” truck regulations, which build further on the first revisions to trucking regulations in 21 years that were completed late last year.

Worse, it is difficult to know exactly which companies are CTA members. The organization does not publish a list of members (the directory is private), so the only names NRDC can find are from testimonials on its website.

How the rule helps everyone – including the CTA

And CTA’s lawsuit goes against the interests of these trucking companies — those $48 billion in operating cost savings go into their pockets, not the manufacturers.

We hear a lot of grumbling about gas prices – even at today’s prices, which are artificially low due to trillions in global fuel subsidies that ignore external costs – increasing commodity prices. But when there is an opportunity to save 48 billion dollars to transport these goods, we see companies filing lawsuits. is not To save that money. If the price of fuel is important, this charge does not make sense.

And there is great public support for this transition, and indeed there is. Reduces pollution and shipping costs. If the industry is electrified, it can improve public awareness. If you look at it, this could (and will) be a huge win for the industry.

On the other hand, it also helps their employees. These workers drive and work around cleaner vehicles with less vibration and vibration than large diesel engines, which means less health problems, more productivity and more happiness for workers. We’ve heard of some truckers delaying retirement because electric trucks are so light on their bodies — important at a time when the trucking industry is facing a chronic driver shortage.

Similar health benefits apply to the low-income communities where most of these ports and distribution centers are located. The Port of Long Beach/Los Angeles, which diverts 40% of US container traffic from the coast to California’s Inland Empire, is a very desolate place, choked with smoke.

CA’s Inland Empire is surrounded by mountains – often with invisible smoke. Photo by Ken Lund

That’s why drag trucks were targeted for electrification in the first place, because environmental justice air quality findings favored that particular application. In the debate over the Advanced Clean Fleets rule, various coalitions, including labor representatives, joined the usual suspects (scientists, public health, environmental justice organizations, etc.) in supporting the rule.

Ortiz suggests that if senior business leaders who make decisions in the CTA have to live in these communities or have to explain themselves to these communities, they may have more difficulty getting their talking points across without criticism. That $26.5 billion in health spending isn’t just a number — that’s a real tragedy, and a burden borne mostly by communities least able to cope.

Those communities aren’t just writing checks to get out of this cost, they’re being forced into early retirement and disability, burdened with weekly doctor appointments and overflowing ERs. Their children suffer from asthma and their mental development is stunted by the pollution. That’s it. If the trucking companies lose in this stupid case, the real price is not the only one here their own Dollars you save if you drop it.

Why do businesses resist reform?

So, if everyone understands that this transition is a good thing – manufacturers, workers, accountants, the public, scientists, people with pneumonia, and others – then what is the problem with CTA? This is another example of how business reacts negatively to any type of regulation, even though regulation is beneficial to everyone.

This has already happened – in California no less – in 2016 when nearly every car company petitioned the EPA’s new oil-funded boss to reverse President Obama’s historic national fuel efficiency standards, which for the first time marked an alignment between federal and California standards.

With any foresight, they might have known that asking the deaf to break the rules would bring them a difficult segmentation market, but they fell prey to big business to avoid science and the public interest at all costs. It was only after the fact that they realized their mistake and instead began lobbying the EPA to close the “Pandora’s Box” they themselves had opened in the first place.

Fortunately, as predicted, California eventually won that battle. And in spite of every effort to oppose them, good rules persist.

Maybe the CTA will learn something from the auto industry’s last boondoggle, and stop wasting time and money fighting regulations that will save money and save the lives of their workers and the public.

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