The trucking industry is sounding the alarm on consequential ripple effects of the Biden administration’s latest move in the electric vehicle push.
While critics have voiced concerns about the EPA’s recent emissions regulations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), a trade organization that represents small business truckers, warns the restrictions are dangerous and threaten small businesses and the overall U.S. economy.
“It’s been our history with experience with EPA that the regulations that they come up with tend to be… not all that practical when it comes to how they actually will work on the road,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer told Fox News Digital.
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Spencer’s fear is the new regulations are being pushed through mandates that have not addressed the side effects or considered additional ramifications such as costs and efficiency.
“It’s one thing if you’re talking about doing this on an automobile, that if you don’t get where you’re needing to go quite as quickly as you could, it’s no big deal. There’s no ramifications generally beyond you,” Spencer explained. “But for truckers, it can mean that they don’t make deliveries, that the goods that they’re transporting don’t get where they’re needed to go, and certainly in many instances, people really need to have the stuff that trucks bring on a timely basis.”
On Wednesday, the Biden White House announced aggressive regulations for tailpipe emissions as part of its sweeping climate agenda and efforts to push Americans to buy electric vehicles (EVs).
The tailpipe emissions regulations will impact light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles alike. The new standards for heavy-duty trucks, specifically, aim to reduce carbon emissions for trucks beginning with model year 2027.
According to the EPA, transportation accounts for 27% of the total greenhouse gas emission with heavy-duty vehicles making up 25% of that. By enforcing more stringent restrictions on the trucks, the EPA estimates the U.S. would avoid approximately 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Spencer said, historically, new restrictions from the EPA “significantly increase costs” for equipment and operations. What’s more, they can “undermine reliability” which could be detrimental to the overall supply chain.
The EPA acknowledged the cost for manufacturers would be a staggering $6 billion which also accounts for nearly $3 billion in cost reductions provided by the Inflation Reduction Act. It’s estimated that businesses would have to pay thousands to purchase zero-emission vehicles (ZEV).
“For a small business, any kind of problem that comes along that can shut you down, that can disable you for anywhere from a few days to maybe even a few weeks, it can put you out of business really, really, really quickly,” Spencer said. “We certainly see the potential for these new proposed rules to have the exact same or maybe even a far worse impact on the operations of small business truckers.”
The restrictions announced Wednesday come on the heels of regulations on nitrogen oxide pollution which raised similar concerns for small business truckers.
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Andrew John of the John N John Trucking Company warned that the costs associated with the nitrogen oxide standards could kill many mom-and-pop trucking businesses.
“They go out of business,” John said on “Varney & Co” last month. “They go out of business, and we all know how important small businesses are to the economy.”
John stressed that the standards could cost thousands of dollars per vehicle but that there would also be other costs associated with the new technology, maintenance, and operations that many small businesses can’t afford.
The latest emissions rules continue to put pressure on small businesses with little cost incentives or government aid. Spencer feared these rules could put truckers out of business.
“Among the greatest contributions that trucks and truckers have made to our economy now is the concept of just-in-time deliveries, where we don’t need warehouses, where we simply schedule and goods move and we’ve sort of become accustomed to being able to look on our phone or our computer or to see and get an idea about where we might expect to get something. Well, if the truck stops, we’re not going to get that.”
Small-business truckers are “absolutely essential to every aspect of our economy,” Spencer argued.
Trucking accounts for 70% of freight moved in the U.S. and 96% of trucking operations are run by small businesses with 20 trucks or fewer. With nearly $18 trillion in freight moved by trucks annually, disruptions in the flow of transportation would mean a lack of supplies to meet the demands of American consumers.
“If you’re shut down, the supply chain is broke because that supply is not going to get delivered,” Spencer said.
“Among the greatest contributions that trucks and truckers have made to our economy now is the concept of just-in-time deliveries, where we don’t need warehouses, where we simply schedule and goods move, and we’ve sort of become accustomed to being able to look on our phone or our computer or to see and get an idea about where we might expect to get something. Well, if the truck stops, we’re not going to get that,” Spencer said.
Since the bulk of the trucking industry relies on small businesses, the EPA mandates put added strain on those companies that cannot easily and efficiently implement the changes, increasing supply chain uncertainty.
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Spencer added that trucks and truckers are often transporting emergency goods and supplies. He fears that unforeseen ramifications from the new restrictions could prevent drivers from getting those supplies to Americans facing emergency situations such as hurricanes and tornadoes.
“If your battery goes down in the middle of a windstorm, a snowstorm, a flood, a hurricane, there are no simple solutions and there may not be any remedies available. So we have to make certain things like that don’t can’t happen. If they [do], our total transportation system can shut down when it’s most urgently needed.”
“It absolutely can be life and death,” Spencer warned.
“If you’re talking about something that actually really does deliver benefits for all around, you don’t have to mandate stuff like that. People gravitate to it. They go after it and say I want it because it’ll make everything better.”
Overall, if the regulations are finalized, a staggering 67% of new sedan, crossover, SUV and light truck purchases could be electric by 2032, the White House projected. In addition, up to 50% of bus and garbage trucks, 35% of short-haul freight tractors and 25% of long-haul freight tractor purchases could be electric.
Spencer called out the irony behind the administration touting the value of the EPA rules but ultimately mandating the changes to achieve their environmental goals.
“The other thing that’s extremely frustrating is that when we talk about these things, we hear this word mandate. They tell us all how all the benefits, how great this stuff is going to be. And then they say, ‘you got to do it anyway.’ Realistically, we’re more in tuned to incentives,” Spencer said. “If you’re talking about something that actually really does deliver benefits for all around, you don’t have to mandate stuff like that. People gravitate to it. They go after it and say I want it because it’ll make everything better.”
“So rather than the mandates, we’d like to see the incentives,” he concluded.
FOX Business’ Kristen Altus and Fox News’ Thomas Catenacci contributed to this report.
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