Truckers Seek to Halt California Regulations Imposing Multi-Billion Dollar Interstate Electric Truck Requirements

 

On October 29, 2021, The Cullen Law Firm submitted objections (OOIDA’s comments) to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on behalf of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the nation’s largest trade association representing the interests of independent truckers, regarding CARB’s proposed Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) Regulations which seek to require virtually every single truck owner in the United States to buy a new and very expensive electric truck (estimates range from $250,000 – 300,000) if they intend to haul cargo in to or out of California.[1] The objections specifically demonstrated:

  • There are significant federal constitutional and statutory prohibitions against the State of California’s imposition of such an expansive and unprecedented burden on interstate commerce.[2]
  • The regulations seek to impose requirements which are simply not feasible, which is required by the California Governor’s Executive Order N-79-20 (“It shall be a further goal of the State that 100 percent of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the State be zero-emission by 2045 for all operations where feasible…”(emphasis added)). The zero-emission mandate is not feasible because it would: (1) force small-business interstate owner-operators to purchase entirely new ZEV vehicles at nearly double the cost of diesel trucks;  (2) significantly lower the value of their non-ZEV vehicles; and (3) increase interstate trucking costs by billions of dollars.
  • There is no interstate infrastructure available to recharge heavy-duty ZEV trucks as they traverse the country to carry cargo into or out of California. The overwhelming majority of states outside of California have not even begun to develop any significant ZEV infrastructure, except perhaps for occasional electrical plug-in chargers for passenger cars at grocery stores, airports, and parking lots. But there is no infrastructure at all on a scale necessary to recharge heavy-duty commercial trucks on an interstate basis. Such recharging stations would each need to have sufficient electrical power and apparatus to simultaneously recharge numerous heavy-duty trucks on an expeditious and continuous basis. As one industry product manager has observed: [I]f there were 10 electric heavy-duty trucks, all charging at 1 MW, that’s 10 MW—about the same as a semiconductor plant. So that’s kind of the scale that we’re looking at—when something that used to show up on our grid as a few hundred kilowatts, a truck stop, says, ‘Hey we’re gonna be installing two-megawatt chargers,’ now that truck stop looks like a semiconductor plant. That means that the grid has to grow in different ways that might not be part of the plan yet. The grid to support that demand might be in industrial parks, not at a fueling station next to the highway. [3]

In addition, while CARB has attempted to provide supporting data regarding infrastructure, and operating costs within California, it has provided no data regarding the impact of these factors in the other 49 states affected by the proposed regulations. Moreover, CARB has failed to address the impact the regulations will have on its own industries and citizens given that out-of-state truckers will be prohibited from hauling cargo into California which its own businesses and citizens need to support industries ranging from manufacturing, agriculture, construction, petroleum, and electronics, on down to equipment needed to fight forest fires. At the same time, California businesses will be further harmed because interstate truckers will not be available to haul California products out of California to the rest of the country, including, for example, the thousands of containers stacked on the flotilla of cargo ships currently anchored off the California coast waiting to be off-loaded onto trucks operated by the nation’s interstate owner-operators.

Based on these factors, OOIDA has requested that, at minimum, CARB promulgate the following interstate exemption:

These regulations do not apply to any vehicle purchased for use and used in interstate or foreign commerce prior to its entry into this State, and thereafter used continuously in interstate or foreign commerce both within and without California and not exclusively in California.

In conclusion, it is a well-known fact that California is always at the forefront in pursuing aggressive environmental regulations. But its regulations must still be lawful and feasible. Here, they are neither.

Are You Interested in Having Your Voice Heard?  

If you are interested in voicing an objection to CARB’s ZEV regulations, you may still be able to file a formal comment in the record at (comment submittal form). Even though CARB requested comments before October 29, 2021 – because the rulemaking is “informal” at this point – CARB should consider any comments they receive before they make a final recommendation to the CARB Board of Directors in 2022. You are also welcome to contact TCLF to discuss your questions or concerns.

For more information about CARB’s proposed ZEV Regulations please send your comments and questions to: info@cullenlaw.com or contact Daniel E. Cohen.

 

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[1] Section 95692(a) provides:

This regulation applies to any motor carrier, broker, … or entity that hires affected fleets, or who operates or directs the operation of any vehicles subject to this regulation. [T]his regulation applies to any of the following entities that own, operate, or direct vehicles …in California …. (emphasis added).

[2] In the leading case of Bibb v. Navajo Freight Lines, Inc., 359 U.S. 520 (1959), the Supreme Court held that an Illinois law requiring trucks to have certain mudguards was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. The Illinois statute required curved mud guards, instead of straight mudflaps which were legal in at least 45 states. The Supreme Court held that the Illinois law was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, concluding: “A State which insists on a design out of line with the requirements of almost all the other States may sometimes place a great burden of delay and inconvenience on those interstate motor carriers entering or crossing its territory.” Here, of course, the regulations proposed by CARB seek to impose a far more burdensome and expensive interference with interstate commerce, i.e., $250,000 trucks, rather than the relatively modest mudflap requirement in Bibb.

[3] See https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1132019_first-charging-station-electric-semis-megawatt-fast-charging

 

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