Thursday, September 6, 2007

Making sure the CARB cure doesn’t kill us

The rigorous course of treatment that California is pushing to heal its filthy air reminds me of a personal situation that has helped me understand the predicament.

During the past year, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and went through chemotherapy, radiation and surgery that was brutal. It’s no stretch to say the cure nearly killed her. Family members were with her every step, making sure that didn’t happen. Oncologists these days are an uncompromising lot; they know the odds and are programmed to get the cancer no matter what.

Our family made sure they didn’t go too far and we were able to do that because we knew what she could tolerate and what would simply end her life.

Our nation’s resources are similarly endangered. Take the smog in California. When the people and the state of California decided to battle it, they created an air resources board. The state essentially told the agency, “do whatever you have to do.”

It’s the “whatever you have to do” that for years has had the trucking industry on high alert.

The California Air Resources Board is a forceful agency and if someone is not there to say “our segment of the industry cannot tolerate that cure, it will kill them” – then CARB will most certainly mandate more emissions edicts that could destroy many trucking businesses.

Those of who know the industry are aware that there are frailties in the trucking business now as we deal with slim profit margins, unstable fuel costs, congestion, perceived driver shortage, regulatory overload and a demoralized driver force.

CARB’s rules are not just a West Coast worry. Did you know other states will be able to adopt California’s air quality regulations according to a provision in the Clean Air Act?

As your professional association, OOIDA will be as active as possible in both watching and participating in CARB’s plans as it pertains to trucking. The Association will be involved with other states, too. But it cannot be effective in securing workable solutions without the help of each individual truck driver. You, too, must watch the “doctors” to make sure the cure is not regulatory overkill, to make sure their actions are not wrongly motivated.

In their zeal to fix the air, remember that these agencies do not fully understand trucking. They are not entirely clued in as to what will kill us. It’s imperative that all of us in the trucking industry to make sure their cure doesn’t finish off “the patient.”

We can begin by learning about CARB. In the October issue, Land Line Staff Writer Charlie Morasch takes a look at the powerful California Air Resources Board and how its sweeping new trucking rules for 2008 will affect drivers. Watch for it.