Modern life revolves around trucking.
Think about it. Everything you see in every retail establishment, from clothing to food to automobiles to lumber, relied on a semi-truck to get it there. Seventy percent of all goods in America are trucked in. Without the trucking industry, America would be frozen, absolutely paralyzed. Next time you see a truck driver, thank him or her.
Trucking is a hard life. Not only must you navigate an enormous vehicle through intense traffic often in narrow, crowded streets (imagine being a trucker in Manhattan), but long-haul truckers are tasked with being away from home and family for long stretches of time.
And, for some reason, truckers are reviled by the upper classes. A dear friend used to be a long-haul trucker on the eastern seaboard, and his job was punctuated at regular intervals by people who all but spat at him for his career choice as he delivered the goods that allowed their businesses to operate. Trucking is a thankless profession.
Unsurprisingly, drivers are leaving the industry in droves, but not necessarily because of the long hours or the marginal pay or even the classist bias. Almost invariable they’re leaving for one reason: Oppressive government over-regulation.
The trucking industry is already regulated to the nth degree, but in the last few years it’s ramped up to nearly unsustainable levels. Needless to say, those making the rules and regulations are also those most unfamiliar with the realities of life on the road. How many bureaucrats have climbed into the cab of a truck and put it in gear on crowded city streets or remote highways? My guess is virtually none of them.
Now we have an administration gone wild, a progressive cabal of do-gooders who seem determined to regulate the trucking industry out of existence for the good of the planet. Nowhere is trucking more intensely controlled than in California. And California’s insane regulations are what might bring the whole of America to its knees.
California’s mandates are more onerous than the federal government’s EPA regulations, which are bad enough. But the Golden State is obsessed with electric vehicles, and it is moving to mandate an electric fleet over the next few years. Never mind that California’s power grid is so fragile that it can barely handle regular demand as it is; they want those trucks electrified.
What politicians refuse to acknowledge is the ripple effects of these regulations. Consider this sobering analysis of how e-truck mandates could hamstring the American economy:
- Electric trucks are nearly three times more expensive up-front than a diesel-powered rig. “Ninety-six percent of trucking companies in this country are small businesses operating 10 trucks or fewer,” says Jeremy Kirkpatrick, a spokesperson for the American Trucking Association. Triple the price of the rigs, make those electric rigs mandatory, and what do you think will happen to small trucking businesses? That’s right, most will go out of business.
- E-trucks are inefficient. Lithium batteries of the size and capacity needed to power trucks weigh four tons. That’s 8,000 pounds less cargo each truck can carry, simply to accommodate the weight of the batteries. Additionally, there are still too many unknowns on the performance of electric trucks in adverse conditions. How will they operate in extreme heat? Extreme cold? Extreme elevation? It’s these known and unknown risks and costs that concern truckers. “There are serious issues with range and charge times, operability in cold weather environments and reduced payloads because of the battery weight,” says Kirkpatrick. “That means more trucks will be needed to haul the same amount of freight. All of this will have a real impact on the supply chain and the cost and reliability of transportation for the goods that consumers depend on every day.”
- The logistics of mandating e-trucks is formidable to the point of impossible. “Electric trucks in particular have limited range based on numerous factors (weight, outside air temperature, etc.), and many cannot operate much over 250 miles before needing to be recharged (diesels can operate well over 1,000 miles depending on fuel tank size),” says Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications for the Western States Trucking Association. E-vehicles are also notorious for breaking down. (In Wyoming, a town had to ditch its entire fleet of electric buses and return to diesel vehicles after every electric bus failed in less than three years.)
- Charging is inefficient. Rather than fueling up with diesel in minutes and then hitting the road, charging a big-rig can take hours; and (as mentioned above) it only takes the truck one-quarter as far. Additionally, “The charging infrastructure is nowhere near in place, and even if it was, there’s not electricity on the grid to power the fleet,” says Kirkpatrick. There were fewer than 700 electric truck chargers across the entire state of California as of July. More than 150,000 new chargers will be required in order to power the fleet of the future. It is highly questionable whether the state’s grid can support this.
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These are the issues truckers face if e-truck mandates go into effect. JKC Trucking vice-president and co-owner Mike Kucharski said, “My concern is that if this technology fails, the entire supply chain will be dead in the water. Failure is not merely inconvenient, it’s catastrophic. This is not an option, especially for the food supply chain of America.”
We had the merely glimpse of the chaos around supply-chain hiccups during COVID. Now imagine the supply chain collapsing, thanks to electric vehicle mandates. Each new level of bureaucracy adds to the cost of the goods being delivered, which of course are passed on to the consumers.
“However well-intentioned these rules and regulations might be,” explained one frustrated trucker who is leaving the profession after decades on the road, “it’s clear that no one is consulting with the long-haul truckers about the totally foreseeable bad outcomes. The great problem with all central planning is that regulators lack local knowledge, and are not inclined to speak to the people living with the consequences of their decrees – probably because we would tell them what idiots they are.”
It continually amazes me how many drastic changes the left wants to make in the name of “climate change” without factoring in how it will affect them personally. Even the most ardent environmentalist needs food and water. Without truckers, those necessities are jeopardized. (See this post “One Month Without Trucks” to understand the ripple effect.) If California – or any other state – tries to force the mandate toward electric big rigs, the trucking industry will crash, and America will grind to a halt.
As California goes, so goes the nation. Imagine a future without truckers, and see where it gets you.
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