- California transport and supply chains are at risk because of regulations designed to make internal combustion engines for trucks extinct.
- Pennsylvania has chosen to follow California’s truck regulations, at least for the first set of regulations where trucks must have newer engines installed.
- California is also forcing the sale of electric drayage (mid-sized trucks) vehicles starting next year and forcing conversion of semi-trucks to electric in the coming years.
- Pennsylvania risks its economy and the quality of life for its people by following California’s lead.
California’s rules will raise the price of a new heavy truck by about one-third, so trucks once costing $190,000 will now cost about $260,000. California regulators claim that a new air-pollution regulation is needed because the trucks “contribute greatly to…serious health and welfare problems.” But, a truck today emits only 1/60th of the emissions of a truck built and operated in 1980. Unfortunately, other states such as Pennsylvania are following in California’s footsteps. Pennsylvania, however, is being sued on behalf of truckers, who argue that the Constitution is being violated as Pennsylvanians have not voted for the standards that are now inundating the state. The Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Air Board making the decision is mostly made up of people from unrelated departments, like the Fish and Boat Commission, the Game Commission, and the Historical and Museum Commission who most likely know little about air pollution. They are random bureaucrats who work in the government who only want to mimic California. Pennsylvania is not California, and has a different economy, geography and air quality issues.
California Truck Regulations
The California Air Resources Board issued regulations to reduce emissions from trucks, buses, and tractor-trailers by requiring newer model engines. As of January 1, 2023, all drayage trucks over 26,000 pounds must have engines from 2010 or later and those trucks entering the Port of Long Beach facilities must have engines from 2014 or newer. These regulations create a significant burden for small companies or owner-operators, forcing many to make substantial investments in new equipment or close their doors. The state developed mobile devices that the California Highway Patrol can use to check emissions on the spot, at weigh stations, or at ports. Units out of compliance may have their registrations revoked. Larger trucking companies are also feeling the impact as many employ small business owners or owner-operators to meet supply chain demands. Supply chains have been breaking down as new regulations are heaped one atop another resulting in issues such as shortages of baby formula and other merchandise.
The situation will only get worse. California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has decreed that all new vehicles must be electric with specific dates set for the transition, which will further increase costs. California regulators are banning the sale of new diesel big rigs by 2036 and are requiring all trucks to be zero-emissions by 2042. Drayage trucks, which carry cargo to and from major ports, must be converted to electric models by 2035, while new sales starting in 2024 must be zero-emissions. Earlier this year, Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency approved California’s rules phasing out diesel trucks. Some of the country’s major truck manufacturers and their lobbying groups have opposed the regulations, arguing that the requirements are costly as electric trucks are much more expensive than diesel trucks. Large trucks are more expensive to convert to electric models than smaller vehicles due to their size and weight. If Pennsylvania regulators continue to follow in California’s footsteps, future trucks will need to be all-electric. Pennsylvania’s situation, however, is different than California’s in terms of how electricity is generated. While California gets a great deal of its electricity from non-fossil fuels, Pennsylvania does not.
In 2022, renewable resources, including hydropower and solar photovoltaic systems, supplied about half of California’s in-state electricity generation, natural gas-fired power plants provided 42 percent and nuclear power added about 8 percent. Over half of Pennsylvania’s electricity is generated from natural gas and about another 10 percent comes from coal, meaning that Pennsylvania will need to burn more gas and coal to generate electricity to power electric trucks, which will negate some of the decrease in tailpipe emissions. Further, due to heavy batteries, electric trucks weigh more than diesel trucks and the extra weight is harder on the roads, which will result in greater need for road repair. This is a significant issue in colder climates where frost degrades roads, unlike in California where most of the population is in areas which are not subject to this dynamic. Further, electric trucks have a very low range compared to diesel trucks, so there will be enormous down time for truckers as truck batteries need to be recharged, and it will take more time for consumers to get the products that they need. This all combines to make a manufacturing state like Pennsylvania less competitive with other regions, all in an effort to emulate California.
Pennsylvania’s regulators do not seem to care what its citizens want. They just want to mimic California. That means that truck prices will increase and that an all-electric mandate may follow, similar to the EV transition set in California. As the trucking industry is the major mover of freight in the United States, these regulations will have major impact on U.S. consumers’ supplies and the prices they pay for them.