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A Proposed Carbon Emissions Bill May Impact the Trucking Industry in a Big Way

carbon emissions

A bill was proposed in March of this year, with the purpose of phasing out diesel trucks in California. What does this mean for the trucking industry? Keep reading for both sides of the argument, and what the future could look like if this bill passes.

The Good

In an ongoing effort by state legislators to control pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, State Senator Nancy Skinner proposed a bill that would direct the California Air Resources Board to require a 40% reduction in diesel emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050. Experts say that these cuts would not be possible without a major overhaul of the trucking industry. This, of course, would face major opposition from trucking companies, as well as other businesses that transport products in trucks.

Skinner commented about the proposed bill that California is indeed a leader in climate protection, but their air is still very dirty, and rates of asthma, lung disease, heart disease, and other respiratory problems are only getting higher. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks and buses make up 7% of the vehicles on California’s roads, but contribute a whopping 20% of the heat-trapping carbon emissions. They also produce 33% of the state’s nitrogen oxides, which is one of the main ingredients in smog.

Environmental groups believe that the gradual phasing out of diesel will give electric manufacturers enough time to develop, create, and sell clean-fuel replacement vehicles. Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, has commented that zero-emission technology is accelerating at an enormous rate.

The bill, SB44, would also designate an unspecified dollar amount from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for the development of alternate fuels and technology.

The Bad

People who work on or drive trucks for a living are, understandably, concerned. They argue that trucks move the world, and getting rid of them simply doesn’t make sense at this stage of alternative, non-diesel transportation technology. Diesel engines are much more powerful, and last longer—800,000 miles compared to a gas engine, which lasts about 200,000. Diesel engines also get 30% better fuel economy.

The industry claims that the technology simply hasn’t come far enough to phase out diesel, and says it would be a big strain on the industry.

There was a ruling in December of 2018 by the California Air Resources Board that required all transit agencies to make their fleets entirely emission-free within twenty years. This ruling essentially prohibits the purchase of any new gas or diesel public transit buses by 2029, and requires that all buses be emission-free by 2040. This means that about 14,000 gas-fueled public buses will be removed from the streets as they wear out and will be replaced with battery and fuel-cell electric ones—but is this possible for the trucking industry?

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