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Central Coast truckers worried CA proposal could run them out of business

CA Truck regulations
Nathalie Vera/
State regulators are considering requiring zero-emission truck sales over the next decade.

SANTA MARIA, Calif. --California has the worst air quality of the nation, and state leaders say trucks are a big part of the problem. Regulators are considering requiring zero-emission truck sales over the next decade.

For business owners in the industry like Terry Johnson, the proposal is bad news.

“First of all, for the customer, it would triple the price in the delivery of all the products," he said. "Second of all, it would be a maintenance nightmare. And third of all, to change them all over wouldn't be cost effective for all the fleet.”

The rule affects truck sales. If approved, truck owners would not be required to get rid of working vehicles. However, it would affect them down the line when they're ready to replace a truck.

"They usually last ten to 15 years," said Johnson.

The business owner says he's been in the industry for 40 years. His company, Terry Johnson Trucking Inc., has a location in Santa Maria.

“We transfer rock, sand and gravel and it's usually between 23 and 24 ton loads.”

Johnson says running a trucking businesses in California is particularly tough.

“We already have a lot of regulations we have to go by, and since '08 they've made us change all of our trucks over to tier four.”

The proposed regulation is part of an effort by the California Air Resources Board to meet its 5-million zero emission vehicle target by 2030.

“I think that's a good idea," said Connie Ford, a Central Coast environmentalist involved in groups like Sierra Club, and Food and Water Watch. “We have bad emissions right here in California. We're not gonna stop using fuel completely, but we need to start going in a different direction.”

Regulators say the new rules would result in roughly 74,000 zero emission trucks on the road in California by 2030, or about 4% of all trucks.

By 2040, state leaders are planning to have 100 percent zero emission truck sales.

“People would be leaving the state right and left, and shutting down their businesses, and leaving a lot of people unemployed," said Johnson.

“Climate change is unfortunately gonna be our doom and so it overrides everything else --including finances, economy, or whatever," said Ford. "We have to think at least of what would be good [for future generations]. Not just, 'Am i gonna get paid today?'”

However, Johnson says the requirement would also bring logistical problems.

“If you're just running in the city, every night you could just plug it in and charge it. But our trucks are at different stations all the time throughout the state," he said. “If you're driving 500 to 600 miles a day, I think it would be a problem to match your driving hours, with your recharging hours.”

The regulations would also apply to heavy duty pick-up trucks, and some full size vans.

The California Air Resources Board is voting on this next year.

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Nathalie Vera


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