California’s ‘truck-n-bus’ fiasco

Tim Donnelly | Assemblyman, CA

Think the Golden State has come up with every possible regulation known to man? Not quite yet. As the California Air and Resources Board’s 2008 global warming regulations begin to phase in, California’s trucking industry will be virtually exterminated.

The state’s top-down public policies have made California one of the worst states to live and own a business. Its burdensome business regulations, taxes, and laws have made the state the butt of jokes in the advertising campaigns of more pro-business states like Texas and Florida.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has been actively and successfully recruiting California businesses to move to Texas. The same is true for Florida businessman-turned-governor, Rick Scott, who has also been championing California’s over-regulated and deprived economy, telling the Republican Party of Sarasota County that he was “working on putting up a bill board out there [in California] that has Jerry Brown’s picture and mine,” that says, “same haircut, no income taxes. Number one in teacher quality. Move to Florida.”

Meanwhile, California’s Air and Resources Board (CARB), established the statewide “On-Road Heavy Duty Diesel Vehicles (In-Use) Regulation,” or the “truck-n-bus rule,” the grandfather of the agency’s numerous sub-regulations imposed on vehicles with diesel engines.

CARB’s pollution specialist, Hein Tran wrote a report in 2008 which found that diesel particulate matter (DPM) caused 3,000 deaths in 2007. As such, the regulatory body imposed the “truck-n-bus rule” as an effort to combat global warming emissions from heavy-duty diesel vehicles (i.e. buses, 18 wheelers).

Tran’s report was supposedly vindicated when Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the EPA, permitted an experiment at the University of North Carolina in which participants were paid $12 an hour to breathe concentrated diesel truck exhaust fumes. She subsequently testified before Congress stating: “Particulate matter causes premature death. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.”

The study conducted by the EPA does not accurately reflect the adverse health effects of DPM. If you pay someone to breathe concentrated DPM, you are obviously going to get the results you want. Another interesting thing to note is that Tran held a doctorate from “Thornhill University,” a fictitious institution operated from a P.O. Box in New York City.

Beginning January 1, 2014, the majority of trucks on California highways which exceed 26,000 pounds will no longer be legal to operate. In a conversation I had with Joe Rajkovacz from the California Construction Trucking Association, I was told:

“If the truck is equipped with a 1996-06 model year engine, it will need to be retrofitted with a diesel particulate filter at a cost of approximately $20,000 – surpassing the value of most [smaller] trucks. If you do not want to make the modifications, you have only one option left: purchase a “newer used” truck equipped with an EPA-compliant 2007 engine which will most likely come along with a price tag of $135,000 to $300,000.”

But all of this will only buy you time until January 2023 – the infamous date when all-heavy duty diesels must be replaced with 2010 engine models or newer. Up to this final date, as Rajkovacz informed me, there is a timeline which phases out the older non-2010 engines. By 2015, all trucks equipped with an engine older than 1993 must replace the engine with a 2010 model. And by 2016, all trucks operating with a 1994 or 1995 engine must do the same.

The trucking industry has received no credit for its long-time compliance with current environmental regulations – which has cost billions of dollars.  Truckers have been using “ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD)” which contains no more than 15 parts per million of sulfur. This is a dramatic improvement from the “low sulfur diesel (LSD)”, which contained 500 ppm of sulfur.

Ultimately, even if you are concerned about particulates as a pollutant, or about greenhouse gas emissions, then you should still oppose these kinds of regulations, because they are doing far more harm than good.

We have millions of Californians out of work, and these regulations impede job growth and diminish much-needed tax revenue. Secondly, the trucks will fuel up out-of-state, depriving California of the revenue to offset the damage to our roads. And lastly, the trucks will travel twice the distance to get into and back out of the state, doubling their impact on pollution and greenhouse gases. So much for the good intentions of CARB, which passed regulations that will cost us jobs and tax revenues, without doing anything about the problem it purports to solve.

We owe it to taxpayers to end the abusive and arbitrary rulemaking of CARB, which creates regulations without any representation from those most impacted. Rescinding the “truck-n-bus” rule and replacing CARB’s board would go a long way toward restoring California’s prosperity.

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