Another Emotional Rollercoaster

For me to say this past month has been emotionally and psychologically difficult would be an understatement. I was heartbroken as I witnessed what I referred to in my October 2013 article as “Civil War Between Truckers” absolutely came true.

I was at the CARB hearings to amend the truck rule, April 24-25, and watched with dismay as many of our members who had once joined with us in the battle against CARB to sue them are now in compliance (and in debt) and suddenly changing their positions.

Some apparently forgetting who the real enemy is, wrote in to, unfortunately, cancel their CCTA memberships. Others posted scathing letters on the CARB’s Public Comments web pages about “bottom-feeding rate-cutters,” etc. Yet deep in my heart, after attending these CARB meetings for eight years, I knew nothing would ever be good enough for the environmental community and their regulators. Those that bought new trucks seemed unable to grasp the fact that even these new expensive clean green diesel trucks were still too “deadly” and will have to be replaced.

Back to the CARB Hearing

The April 24, CARB hearing day began at 8 a.m. with a rally, where 70 people showed on the north steps of the Capitol Building, hosted by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly who is also running for governor. Both Joe and I were speakers too. I want to give a special thanks to Tony Luiz from the Monterey Bay Chapter who not only attended this Capitol Rally, but walked the entire trek to the EPA building while using a cane. That is true dedication.

The first to testify were the local Air Pollution Control District officers. Each one testified that these rules were having a very negative effect on their local economies (thank goodness they finally acknowledged this). I would like to thank our members who contacted their local air districts and told them how difficult this rule was on their businesses, making it possible for me to speak directly to many of these officers months ago.

The first round of truckers to testify appeared to be mostly CTA members who had invested big money on DPF’s and new trucks. Their message: “No Delays,” but said they’d be glad to hire all the busted owner-operators as drivers. A number of these carriers, like Gardener Trucking, received millions of dollars of Prop. 1B grant funds. In the afternoon, mostly small carriers spoke and there was heartfelt testimony from both sides, many near tears.

The vote by the Board was delayed until Friday morning. They voted 9-1 to adopt the amendments. Board Member Hector De La Torre the lonely “No.” In his closing statements he referred to those who had testified in favor of the amendments as “ignorant and defiant.” Incidentally, De La Torre is a former L.A. Assemblyman (who received $500,000 in campaign funds from the Teamsters from 2006-10) and is currently the executive director of the national “non-profit” Transamerica Center for Health Studies, advocating for Obamacare. So who hates owner-operators the most –CTA and Teamsters – they apparently got their money’s worth this day!

Sort of a Win

While those who were in favor of the delays were clearly happy, I also knew that in dealing with this out of control agency, no business in California would ever truly be a winner. “Regulation Nation” is an understatement. As we have witnessed recently, even companies such as the green Prius-building Toyota are choosing to leave for greener pastures.

I also knew that this would never be over, that the air would never be clean enough for these zealots. So even though I savored another victory to some degree, it was not joyful, too many had been hurt. Ironically, when we talk about winners and losers, everyone is a loser here.

I Told You So

On Monday May 5, CARB held a public forum on their “Sustainable Freight Strategy.” Yes, within ten days of our finalization to the Truck and Bus Rule amendents, CARB is moving forward to replace the 2010 diesel engines with hydrogen/electric hybrid. Turns out the new ultra-clean diesel engines they once touted as good – aren’t quite good enough, you must now proceed to “zero emissions.”

You see, it’s really not about the PM but CO2-causing climate change, that is being hyped. This technology is not yet available. Money is no object, as a CARB staff member gleefully told us she has $50 million to spend on this new technology. We have all heard this before; can you say Solyndra? I managed to sit calmly and resisted the urge to throw my shoes at the speakers.

So for the first time in ten years writing this column, I will close with the same saying I used last month: “I told you so.”