California’s “Clean” Initiatives Cause Ruckus Among States and Transportation Logistics – Mainly the Trucking Industry – And Florida is Keeping a Close Eye

Before we dive into the details of which proposals would impact whom the most, let’s sum up what’s going on with a good, old-fashioned abstract introduction. California wants to go green – which many of us can appreciate – but its most-recent attempt to do so could impose regulations that would ultimately impact every state’s trucking industries, as well as the manufacturing of trucks as a whole. The Sunshine State transports around 75% of its commercial goods via trucks despite having various transportation options including rail, water, and air. As we follow California’s proposals, it’s clear that they have the potential to influence national regulations on transport and truck manufacturing. This makes it essential for us to monitor these developments closely.

How can one state propose changes that extend so far beyond its borders if these “rules” become laws? The proposed regulations would require all trucks entering California to meet new standards or face fines. This means trucks from other states, even those compliant with their own state and national regulations on weight, emissions, and more, would be penalized when delivering goods to California. These regulations, detailed below, aim to work together to achieve a fully zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) fleet in California by 2050. While California is striving for a greener future, the plan overlooks the complexities and challenges of maintaining and equalizing standards in a way that fairly represents every state. In a statement from John Kingston’s article, 17 states sue to block California’s Advanced Clean Fleets rule,” published on Freight Waves, “The fear among other states… has been that a regulation in the Golden State effectively becomes a national regulation as OEMs resist building products that don’t meet California’s rules and companies seeking access to the California market change their operations to meet those rules.” Let’s look closer.

California’s Proposed Rules

California adopted the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) rule in 2020 in an effort to address its state-wide problem with air quality, as vehicles (whether personal or commercial), “​​are responsible for approximately 80% of smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. They also represent about 50% of greenhouse gas emissions when including emissions from fuel production, and more than 95% of toxic diesel particulate matter emissions” in the state, according to the Advanced Clean Trucks Fact Sheet. The ACT targets truck manufacturers, sometimes referred to as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), forcing them to transition production from combustion engines to Electric Vehicles (EVs) over a period of time. According to the article, “Understanding California’s Advanced Clean Truck Regulation,” ACT, “requires (OEMs) of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to sell zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) or near-zero-emissions vehicles (NZEVs) such as plug-in electric hybrids as an increasing percentage of their annual sales from 2024 to 2035. The regulation uses a cap-and-trade system, capping the number of fossil fuel vehicles sold by stipulating annual sales percentage requirements.”

Now that we know a little more about ACT, let’s look into the most-recent rule proposal, which was designed to complement ACT, the Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rule. While ACT focuses on truck manufacturing, specifically those companies that produce more than 500 vehicles per year, ACF targets businesses that purchase and drive trucks. This newest phase of California’s clean initiatives is perhaps even more impactful, as far as its potential to affect other states, as it lays out rules that could potentially penalize drivers/businesses that travel to California. States’ main concerns are that fleets will need to adapt to the larger state’s rules – including those which could dictate a timetable for a vehicle’s “useful life.” Many feel this is unconstitutional – with fair reasoning. The summary of ACF can be found in this article, “Advanced Clean Fleets Regulation Summary,” but there is much concern and opposition surrounding the proposal.

Concerns & Opposition

Many of the items listed here come from a variety of sources and are hot topics among larger company fleets as well as individual drivers who own and operate their own rigs/businesses. It’s important to note that several states have filed suit against both the ACT and ACF, with a multitude of complaints. Though previously referenced, this article provides great detail into the “who and why” when it comes to states currently in opposition to ACF. Secondarily, “19 states target EPA waiver for California’s Advanced Clean Trucks rule,” lays a strong foundation as to why states became concerned and continue to worry that the new initiatives, if made into law, will reach far beyond California’s borders.

These are some of the key factors that worry states and businesses alike:

  • EV trucks cost more, though this article on Forbes, “Electric Trucks Will Be Cheaper Than Diesel – Years Fast Than Expected” does show some promising decline, upfront costs remain higher, and any reduction in expense is very much reliant upon government incentives and programs
  • The cost of implementing charging stations along highly-traveled routes, specifically around states that have Adopted California’s Vehicle Regulations, would be significant expenditures for individual states
  • Power grids – including in California – are not currently equipped to handle the energy load required to charge EV trucks and would require massive infrastructure updates
  • EV trucks weigh more, due to the weight of the batteries, than current diesel models
  • Even with technological advances, EV batteries cannot provide the same duration of travel allowed by gas, which would mean stops for charging and possible delays in transport times
  • The cost and environmental impact of producing EV batteries exceeds the cost and impact of the manufacture of combustion engines, and we have only predictions thus far as to whether or not the upfront environmental cost will offset the long-term impact. It appears as though the payoff will be worth it, but here’s an article published on that can help answer questions regarding this concern

Rounding Things Out

Rounding Things Out

Though it may seem there are a lot of cons, there is good intention behind initiatives to move transportation industries in a greener direction. No doubt, reducing emissions, fuel dependency and cost, and creating a more sustainable system would be amazing in a perfect world. But are we there yet? In an attempt to remain unbiased, this article does an excellent job of outlining both benefits and hazards regarding a transition to EVs for the trucking industry, “Electric trucks vs. gas: Which is best for your fleet?

Though Florida is not currently among the states involved in any of the suits, perhaps due to the less-frequent need for goods to be transported all the way from FL to CA via interstate trucking, regulations that can potentially affect national change are on our radar – especially since the majority of commercial transport is performed over the road.

Florida’s geographic shape and location allow access from sea to ground better than most. Our extensive highway system plays a vital role in the movement of goods throughout the state and beyond. “Highways like Interstate 95 and Interstate 75 serve as crucial arteries for the transportation of goods, connecting major cities and facilitating trade flows,” as a part of supply chain performance, according to this article detailing Florida’s unique placement in transportation logistics industries.

To sum things up, many states are understandably concerned with the potential impacts of California’s clean initiatives – while good in theory – as they have the ability to affect the entire trucking industry.

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