Obama's New Truck Regulations - How Much "GREEN" Can a Big Rig Haul?
by RENEE E. TAYLOR, MARK R. TAYLOR
August 19, 2011
I read the new emissions standards for 18-wheelers with a tinge of amusement. The new standards, due to take effect between 2014 and 2018, require a 20% decrease in fuel consumption for diesel trucks. The standards were developed by the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with “input” from environmental groups, state governments and “the trucking industry”. Engine and heavy truck manufacturers, who stand to possibly gain Federal grant money for their research and development to create more fuel-efficient vehicles, also publicly embraced the idea.
In my years as a trucking company owner, it is with certainty that I can say that most truck owners – whether large fleet or one truck owner/operator, would embrace a logical, efficient way to decrease the rising cost of fuel. In 1999, my 2000 Freightliner Classic XL averaged 5.5 miles per gallon when loaded to its full capacity of 80,000 pounds. A current 2010 Freightliner Cascadia is averaging approximately 6 miles per gallon. One would be hard-pressed to find a truck owner who wouldn’t embrace a more fuel-efficient truck without decreasing performance. However, just because the bureaucrats in Washington put an idea on paper and Barack Obama read it from his teleprompter doesn’t mean it will magically happen any more than the Chevrolet Volt had car buyers trading their Impalas and Camaros for the over-priced, low performance “fuel efficient” car. Which is to say, it didn’t. Heavy truck manufacturers, such as Freightliner, have already begun production of a hybrid truck. Like the Volt, the vehicles are expensive and not practical in the intent for which they were produced.
There are many variables that affect fuel consumption in a heavy truck – engine size, gear ratios, terrain, weather, traffic, load weight and more. As we attempt to decrease our dependency on foreign oil with a government that refuses to allow domestic drilling, engineers in private industry have been working not only to make a more fuel efficient vehicle, but also one that complies with increasing state and government regulations. Manufacturers of heavy trucks are embracing the new standards – much like one would embrace the possibility of a grant check from the Federal government to pay for their research and development.
Of course, the usual excuses are presented in Fleet Owner magazine – cleaner air and less pollution. However, little was said about the reality of the costs involved to the trucking company owner in the way of decreased productivity, increased expenses to comply with the new regulations (in an over-regulated industry) and the disastrous effect on the economy as those expenses are trickled down to every product delivered by truck. Since Al Gore first hit the scene with his “global warming” hoax, government has diligently worked to increase regulation based not upon reality, but based upon an agenda of financial and behavior control.
Over the years, truckers have gone to great lengths and expense to decrease fuel consumption. Often, it wasn’t a matter of financial necessity, but an effort to comply with “government regulation”. As states such as New Jersey imposed “no idling” laws, auxiliary power units (APU) became popular as truckers, trying to comply with state regulations, scrambled to provide basic creature comforts. Just as those who wrote these new “standards” probably have never hauled the first box cross-country, neither had the state bureaucrats ever tried to sleep in a vehicle in extreme cold or hot weather.
The trucking industry has seen this before. In an effort to decrease dependency on foreign oil and appease the EPA, we have seen such debacles as biodiesel and IdleAire. Biodiesel was an idea that never caught on because the cost to manufacture and transport it, not the mention the increase in food prices as soybeans and corn went to make biodiesel, made it impractical. IdleAire, funded in part by government grants, was to provide air conditioning/heating and electricity to big trucks. Built in truck stop parking lots across the nation, IdleAire was expensive to use, wasted space in areas already deficient in overnight parking for trucks and, for the most part, not reliable. Additionally, without proper maintenance, the heating/air unit became a possible health hazard to the driver. IdleAire, another grand scheme by the government in an effort to “decrease pollution” – or whatever their excuse at the time was – went bankrupt. They have since reorganized and are operating at limited locations. Another failed plan that, like the new standards proposed last week and biodiesel, was not grounded in reality.
It was private industry and ingenuity that gave us the gasoline and diesel engines and the vehicles that use them. It will be private industry that will create a fuel cell that is efficient, practical and that the people will buy.
I leave you with this one question – what has government created or invented that was practical, efficient, affordable and desired?
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Mark R. Taylor served in Iraq from January 2004 to May 2005 as a civilian convoy commander, and is a private investigator/analyst for The Taylor Company in Warren, Arkansas.