President Joe Biden's administration finalized plans for a program it argues will further reduce air pollution from heavy-duty engines and vehicles across the United States, but truckers argue the proposed standards will crush the supply chain and put the American food supply at risk.
The new emission standards put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "are significantly more stringent," "cover a wider range of heavy-duty engine operating conditions" compared to previous standards and are aimed at reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides and other pollutants. The rule officially went into effect on March 27 of this year, but will be implemented for new trucks sold after 2027.
Despite the positive spin by the current administration, truckers say the agency's standards will promote green energy at the expense of the economy and the country's food supply. More than 95% of the trucking companies that make up the industry are small businesses operating about ten or fewer trucks, JKC Trucking Vice-President and Co-Owner Mike Kucharski told Fox News Digital.
He believes that by complying with the EPA's clean energy mandates, many small trucking companies will be pushed out of the business, tightening trucking capacity nationwide and causing severe price inflation "worse than we have right now," which will be passed down to consumers.
JKC Trucking Inc. is Chicago's largest specialty contract carrier for climate controlled and dry freight loads specializing in less than truckload (LTL) shipments for customers with one box, one pallet or half a truck to ship from the Midwest to California, Florida and major cities west of the Mississippi River.
The EPA estimates the technology required to meet the new rule’s standards will cost between $2,568 and $8,304 per vehicle, but the American Truck Dealers Association (ATDA) estimates it is more likely a $42,000 increase per truck. In total, the ATDA projects the associated costs of this new regulation on the country could reach $55 billion over the lifetime of the program.
"A new clean diesel long haul tractor typically costs in the range of $180,000 to $200,000," Kucharski said. "A comparable battery electric tractor costs upwards of $480,000, that's about a $300,000 upcharge, [which] is cost prohibitive for the overwhelming majority of motor carriers."
"This mandate is based on brand-new technology, number one, and they're supporting green energy" above the economy, he added. "I support green energy, but it's extremely frustrating because it's this new mandate that they are forcing... truckers are nonstop overregulated."
Todd Spencer, president at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), told Fox News Digital that the EPA's regulations are part of their "regulatory blitz on small-business truckers."
"This newest announcement is a blatant attempt to force consumers into purchasing electric vehicles while a national charging infrastructure network remains absent for heavy-duty commercial trucks," he said. "Professional drivers are skeptical of electric vehicle costs, mileage range, battery weight and safety, charging time and availability."
"It’s baffling that the EPA is pushing forward with more impractical emissions timelines without first addressing these overwhelming concerns with electric commercial motor vehicles," he added. "The pursuit of this radical environmental agenda in conjunction with an anticipated speed limiter mandate will regulate the safest and most experienced truckers off the road."
Republican U. S. Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska proposed a resolution that would have blocked the EPA mandate. It passed the Senate in April and the House in May, but Biden used his veto power to kill the resolution shortly thereafter.
In July, a bipartisan group in Congress sent a letter to the EPA expressing similar concerns about the regulations.
"The EPA's always pushing more and more regulations on us, and it's harder to do our job now," Kucharski said. "We're kind of sick of it, the administration and EPA jamming it down the truckers' throats."
"These regulations are not practical," he said. "Number one, costs, two, infrastructure - we're not ready for the infrastructure. Three, the testing and data - they're just doing the testing on these trucks right now. I really haven't even driven an electric truck or seen one in person."
Kucharski said the driving range of electric trucks is nowhere close to gas and diesel powered vehicles and is simply "not practical" right now.
"The charge of an electric truck is about 10 hours and the distance could be about 150 miles to 300 miles," Kucharski said. "To give you an idea right now, one of our diesel trucks, when it fills out 300 gallons, it has a capacity to go 1,600 to 1,800 miles."... (Read more)
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