Friday, May 29, 2009

Declawing CARB (temporarily)

The California Air Resources Board has drawn heaping piles of criticism from truckers for years, and especially during the last two to three years, when the environmental agency began aggressively implementing emissions regulations on trucks.

Whether it was the ban on idling that took effect in 2008, this year’s impending reefer regulation, or the upcoming ban on older trucks by 2015, truckers have grown tired of keeping up with the Golden State’s recent emissions-busting measures.

Although many of California’s regulations were planned years ago during better times, they cost truckers thousands of dollars and are being implemented and enforced during our worst economy since the 1930s.

And they divide truckers.

Some drivers complain about strong enforcement of the idling restriction, while others wish CARB would regulate more so they’d feel better about spending all that money on an APU to be compliant.

OOIDA has communicated its concerns to CARB and Gov. Schwarzenegger regarding some regulation specifics and the timing of more regulations during a down economy. CARB has adjusted some implementation timelines to accommodate small trucking businesses.

In the California Legislature, one state senator is listening to those who say the state’s enactment of Assembly Bill 32 – the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 – is helping choke an already wheezy economy.

AB 32 was designed to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The law gave the already powerful CARB agency room to create dozens of new regulations, many of them falling to the trucking economy.

Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, introduced Senate Bill 295 in late February. The measure would require CARB to reanalyze the costs associated with implementing AB32. The new senate bill is scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday, May 20.

Dutton noted that the unemployment rate was less than 5 percent when AB32 was enacted but is now more than double (11 percent as of Monday).

“The worst thing that could happen right now is for more Californians to lose their jobs,” Dutton said.

In a news release from Dutton’s office, Matthew Kahn, an economist from UCLA noted: “While I support the Governor’s broad AB32 goals, I am troubled by the economic modeling analysis that I have been asked to read. AB32 is presented as a riskless ‘free lunch’ for Californians. … This would be a large free lunch! I would like to believe this claim but after reading through the Economic Analysis and the five appendices there are too many uncertainties and open microeconomic questions for me to believe this.”

In some ways it might seem surprising that the men and women who earn their living behind the wheel could have told university experts and political leaders what the crush of incoming regulations would do to America’s most populous state.

Unfortunately, some of these truckers aren’t around to say “I told you so.”