California Mandates Electric Big Rigs
Ignoring the exorbitant costs and the limited resources, the Golden State is plowing ahead with its latest “green” directive.
They say that what happens in California eventually happens everywhere else in America.
Increasingly, that’s becoming really bad news for the rest of us.
For decades now, the Golden State has been perhaps the world’s foremost center of creativity, innovation, and trendsetting. But these days, it seems to be teaching us one How Not To lesson after another. This includes the government’s pipe dream of forcing trucking fleets to go green. We can practically hear an angst-filled voice from the future: It sounded like a good idea at the time.
Imagine electric-powered rigs hauling goods across the country while reducing our carbon footprint. But like most every government mandate, this is another directive that’s too good to be true (or too true to be good). For one, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has mandated that trucking fleets operating in or near ports buy only zero-emissions trucks beginning in January 2024. By 2035, trucks in all fleets must be completely zero emission.
“Still,” as Rachel Premack writes in the supply chain journal FreightWaves, “months before this regulation comes into effect, folks on the ground say key infrastructure and concerns haven’t been furnished. California must prove to the nation (and the world) that an electrified trucking fleet can underpin a major port — without hurting a group of workers that already has the cards stacked against them.”
Those who might dismiss the impact of this regulation elsewhere in the country should look at the bigger picture: The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach drive our national economy.
Premack adds: “More than a third of all containerized trade comes through these two ports, along with trade coming in through bulk or tanker ships. That means hundreds of billions of dollars in T-shirts, steel, cement, Squishmallows, frozen shrimp and basically anything else you can think of. And there’s some $145 billion in exports too — goods like cotton, oranges and the all-important scrap metal. It’s hard to picture America’s consumer economy without those Southern California ports.”
What a ridiculous solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. As National Review’s Dominic Pino reports, “The state government and private companies are going to spend gobs of money to buy electric trucks for which there aren’t yet charging stations or electric capacity, so that they can move less freight at higher cost. Brilliant transportation policy.”
Clearly, this new regulation is bad news all around.
EV trucks are heavier, take hours to power up, and hold less freight. And what about the cost? Even the International Council on Clean Transportation concedes that battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks could cost more than double what a diesel truck does. Sure, they claim some states will offer vouchers to offset those costs, but who’s paying for those vouchers? For the answer, look in the mirror. Because all these additional costs will be passed on to the end consumer.
“Even with generous state and federal funding and tax credits for owners that can cut the cost of expensive battery-powered or hydrogen trucks in half,” writes Aarian Marshall at Wired, “owners say the vehicles are a financial stretch. There are few places to charge or refill them.”
Marshall adds, “Trucking industry insiders say logistical challenges — like long wait times to extend power to new charging stations, and charger component shortages — pose huge challenges.”
Building the infrastructure to support all these EV trucks will be an enormous challenge, perhaps an implausible one. Unlike oil, which is far easier to acquire considering the U.S. is one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world, the components needed for EV trucks will force us to become dependent on resources from abroad — including nickel, lithium, cobalt, and copper. Many of these materials are in limited supply.
It isn’t a surprise, then, to learn that Toyota is cautioning against a narrow focus on EVs simply due to their dependence on these rare metals and minerals.
One wonders whether anyone on the California Air Resources Board even checked on this. Probably not.
But since when have government bureaucrats cared about the exorbitant cost of their “green” agenda? The answer is “never,” and the folly of this latest eco mandate will soon become obvious to us all.
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