L AT C T RANSPORTER
CARBtastrophe? Forget about global warming, cooling, climate change or whatever… Republicans or Democrats, scandalous emails, biased bureaucrats, meteorological gossip or gospel, from on-high hypocrites or laureates, climate cultists, deniers, earth-huggers or planet-haters, none of it really matters. Instead, please consider just a few of the well known but barely discussed or appreciated facts of the coming impact on the transportation industry and business (consumer) costs as a consequence of the ongoing and additional forthcoming mandates from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Fines have begun and many more are to come.
LATC President Via Verde Ventures
Cap and Trade is a done deal here in California, with CARB being the 11-member unelected group of folks appointed by the Governor and empowered by the legislature under the state’s climate change law (Assembly Bill 32: Global Warming Solutions Act) signed in 2006, to change our lives. New CA regulations are far reaching across various industries and for transportation, particularly motor carriers and their customers, nothing short of titanic. Thus, CARB has wisely chosen to present them in terms of not only reducing pollution and improving health in fulfillment of their legislative mandate, but also as an economic benefit to compliant carriers, consumers and all Californians. CARB Chairperson Mary D. Nichols says: "This important measure is ultimately going to improve our air quality, save hard-earned dollars and promote energy independence by helping to decrease our consumption of fuel. It makes good environmental and economic sense for business owners and for those of us who live and breathe in California." CARB says this regulation “over the course of the 11 years between 2010 and 2020... is estimated to save about $8.6 billion, as well as 750 million gallons of diesel fuel in California, and 5 billion gallons of diesel fuel across the nation.” So if those words are true then it should be a no-brainer, slam dunk, in everyone’s benefit – right?! But reality is that those statements are based on fraudulent science, dishonesty and bias, fiction not facts, and blatantly faulty logic. Specifically, the above declarations and the entirety of the CARB calculations and regulations (the Goods Movement Emission Reduction Plan) were derived from epidemiological conclusions developed by Mr. Hien Tran who was their Manager of the Health and Ecosystems Assessment Section in the Research Division. As such Tran “…was the staff lead for Research Division's effort in quantifying the health effects associated with exposure to air pollutants” (diesel exhaust). “These estimates have been used to highlight the benefits of a number of proposed air toxic control measures brought before the Board” according to CARB. Hien Tran is also a professional liar who has since been found to lack either the relevant background or academic credentials which he claimed. These facts were discovered and then covered up, even from the rest of the CARB members prior to relevant discussion and important votes, by its’ own Chairperson Mary Nichols who denied, then later admitted and denigrated, and finally rejected then ignored questions and criticisms regarding Tran’s behavior and conclusions as well as her leadership of the policy process. Simply put, CARB is “resisting documentable truthful scientific evidence which shows that they are not correct in their actions” (per James E. Enstrom, Ph.D., M.P.H. of UCLA) as well as transportation industry questioning and challenges delivered at numerous “public comment” sessions around the state. According to Enstrom and others, the health effects conclusions are based on old and disproven ‘data’, ignore input and alternative conclusions presented to CARB (and EPA) from numerous other actual scientists including more recent and comprehensive studies with contrary results. Further faulty logic includes the statistical manipulations to ‘help’ the data point to desired economic benefit conclusions. Specifically, the average speed for heavy trucks used in the calculations was 65 mph, despite the maximum CA heavy truck legal speed limit of 55 mph, and even on Interstate 5 crossing the entire state the average speed limit is just 48.3 mph (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/time.htm). Further, the trailer to tractor ratio utilized for fuel and cost savings from aerodynamic add-on equipment was 1:1 – not exactly representative of most motor carriers who actually own trailers.
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CARBtastrophe? continued from page 2 The reason for these distortions of reality and rationality is simple and readily admitted by the lower level CalTrans and CARB bureaucrats involved in the many public comment and information sessions. Just ask them and they will tell you, again and again, that ‘their’ data produced the most favorable results, both in terms of purported economic benefits and also with respect to making the biggest impact on health improvements, emissions reductions and saving the planet from global warming. The further you get away from ‘their’ statistics, and closer to reality, the worse the whole scheme seems to work out for Californians. It’s because they care so much about us that they lie to us.
In addition, and with surprisingly little discussion or fanfare, CARB is in the process of expanding liabilities beyond merely the motor carriers to all transportation stakeholders, for the equipment and operations of motor carrier equipment. CARB says: “Besides the owners of these vehicles, drivers, motor carriers, California-based brokers and California-based shippers that operate or use them also share in the responsibility for compliance with the regulation. One or all of these parties may be held accountable for operating or using non-compliant vehicles on California highways.” The implications of this expansion of obligations (read: new operating costs and fines) to shippers and brokers unlucky enough to be based in California are unprecedented and unknown but with devastating potential. So ask yourself, and your policymakers, if trailer side skirts and rear fairings and low-rolling resistance tires and other now CA-mandated transportation technologies were truly economically beneficial to the carriers, then wouldn’t more (perhaps even a majority) of the hundreds of thousands of self-interested carriers out there in Texas, New Jersey, Idaho and elsewhere ALREADY be utilizing these worthwhile and available options? Wouldn’t at least the very largest and best capitalized carriers with their experienced teams of maintenance and efficiency professionals who currently consult directly with original equipment manufacturers at the highest level to innovate and design for maximum efficiency ALREADY have considered, evaluated and implemented these terrific business tools for mutual economic gain? Is it possible that CARB alone has the insight and wisdom to know what is best for industry? For the record, and before you answer, two prior notable CARB policies and achievements include: mandated diesel fuel reformulation without adequate testing, leading to the damage of thousands of diesel engines in the state and taxpayer cost of over $10M to replace many of the damaged engines; and, brought us the gasoline additive MTBE which initially cost Californians an additional $.20-.30/gallon (over $30B) and later another $20B for cleanup of contaminated ground water after being found to be poisonous to the environment and was banned.
While CARB is quick to point out that truckers operating strictly local benefit from a short-haul tractor rules exemption (“within a 100 mile radius from a home base”), the reality is that slip seating (maximizing capital investment by utilizing equipment across shifts) is simply not feasible for most carriers because the exemption only applies to tractors “that drive less than 50,000 miles per year”. That’s just 100 miles per shift if only operating MON-FRI for only 50 weeks per year and only two shifts per day, or at 65mph average (CARB’s statistics) then they are talking about driving just 1.54 hours per shift. Not realistic for the vast majority of trucking businesses.
The bottom line is that you can take the word of experienced, professional stakeholders when it comes to the impact of CARB rules on transportation industry economics and downstream consumers, or accept as fact the pronouncements from above by unelected, non-expert, ideological and dishonest bureaucrats who boldly regulate based on a ‘because-we-can’ philosophy. If the two groups agree and are correct then we all win, but if the professionals (and many unconvinced scientists) are correct and the bureaucrats (with their political backers) are not, then we – particularly California consumers, businesses and jobs – lose big. Let me know your thoughts on this topic and any feedback on my interpretations, and please keep the questions and ideas coming. David Green Via Verde Ventures