The California dream is becoming a bit more of a nightmare, at least according to some truckers there. With the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandating that older trucks be equipped with a special diesel soot filter in order to reduce pollution, trucking advocates are arguing that the device is not only cost-prohibitive but dangerous as well, says Forbes.

The issue involves larger trucks made between 2000 and 2004 being required to be fitted with a device that can cost as much as $15,000 a pop, or as much as $1 billion a year to the industry, Forbes says, citing the California Trucking Association (CTA). Truckers say some of the devices have caused engine shutdowns and even fires. CARB representatives say that those problems have arisen from misuse by truckers. If the semis spew out soot without a filter, truckers can be fined as much as $10,000 a day for non-compliance.

California has long taken the lead in vehicle anti-pollution efforts. The state began requiring catalytic converters on light-duty vehicles as far back as the mid-1970s, and more recently set a goal to have at least 15 percent of vehicles sold in the state in 2025 be powered either by batteries, a plug-in hybrid powertrain or a hydrogen fuel cell.


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  • 43 Comments
      Kevin Gregerson
      • 1 Year Ago
      What people aren't realizing is that California trucking companies are basically paying more than the truck is worth in order to install these systems and in many cases they make the truck run worse and have more problems because they weren't designed to run with these systems in place like the newer trucks. So instead of running these trucks for 2-4 million plus miles they are forced to sell them early with less than a million miles on them and buy new trucks. This has led to a rash of trucking companies leaving the state all together, and forcing the ones who stay in the state to either take on a larger logistical presence by having two trucks or partnering with a company outside the state to take the load to final destination losing on the revenue of the full load. This raises the cost of business and therefor the cost of goods being shipped. Basically, california trucking companies now charge more per mile for loads. But, overall, make less taxable income for the state. Plus, less trucking companies in the state buying permits etc which also means less money for the state. Also, since the price of transporting goods increased so much in California, companies are now filling up the schedules of other ports in order to reduce expenses on shipping and transportation costs within California. This makes a big boon for every port not in California.
        Dave R
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kevin Gregerson
        "This raises the cost of business and therefor the cost of goods being shipped." You know what really raises the cost of living? Dirty air which increases the effects of asthma and heart disease. Cleaning up diesel pollution simply makes truckers pay for the direct effects of their pollution instead of spreading it around to everyone else they are driving around.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave R
          Truckers aren't paying for anything. Their customers (you and me) are the ones who foot the bill, in increased prices for everything carried by truck.
          Mark Schaffer
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave R
          JJ and something calling itself "Letstakeawalk" should know that elasticity of demand means that cost will be shared between customer and trucking companies or if costs end up lower using rail or air freight people will just shift. Either way it is wrong and simplistic to assume that customers will bear the cost. This is all while such posters ignore Dave R's great point about the real cost of pollution on all of us.
          GoodCheer
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave R
          "So you will end up paying for it." Or more comprehensively; you will face a choice, as a consumer, informed via a price signal, of the true cost of buying goods shipped by truck vs. by rail, or produced locally.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave R
          I would rather pay extra if I decide to buy products that need truck shipping.... than pay extra health costs if I decide to breathe air near a major highway. Costs are coming... it is not right to defer to unwilling participants to pay. The "buy locally" movement has been saying for decades now, that certain practices of shipping are unsustainable.
          JJ
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave R
          Truckers will pass the cost onto their customers, and eventually onto you. So you will end up paying for it.
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Big rigs generate an enormous amount of pollution, but are generally given a free pass compared to EPA emissions rules for passenger vehicles. Because of the vehicle miles traveled and time spent idling placing emmisions limits on large trucks is critically important to reducing smog. Also concrete and asphalt plants should be forced to install pollution controls as they are currently exempted from all clean air regulations.
      Jim 7
      • 1 Year Ago
      Are the truckers unhappy that they get incentive money to pay for the retrofit? http://www.aqmd.gov/tao/implementation/vip.htm http://www.polb.com/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=6356
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm not happy breathing the soot and particulates that they spew. They can install the filters.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just remember without trucks delivering all the things you use in your daily life from your phones to food you eat to the toliet paper use next time try going outside and pick a nice leaf to wipe you sorry asses!!!!
        q`Tzal
        • 1 Year Ago
        Ooooh wow Just because most everything is delivered by truck we should let them **** up our air and water? NO.
      brotherkenny4
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Happy trucker" is an oxymoron, no such thing. So the title of the story could be "California truckers not happy, insert reason here".
      Tweaker
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sounds like a good opportunity to switch to CNG.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tweaker
        Indeed. And there are plenty of CNG stations around for them. I whole-heartedly back that suggestion.
        Greg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tweaker
        Very good point - for the same price as the filter add-on, just solve the problem outright. However, do enough truck stops have CNG to make it practical?
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tweaker
        I am pretty sure diesels do not convert to CNG. They convert to LPG... and there are plenty of places to get it... but not a large volume, so that would need serious expansion to accommodate a lot of truckers.
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tweaker
        This site says diesel to cng conversions can be done for $7-10k: http://www.omnitekcorp.com/altfuel.htm
          Jesse Gurr
          • 1 Year Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          That is for diesels without a turbo. All the trucks i know of have the turbo on it and that costs between $8-$12K. And can make the money back in as little as 6 months. Makes sense to me. But I don't think it is ready to do long haul yet, only local deliveries.
      lad
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here is a case where the Federal Government could be of value by economic assistance to the truckers; California has it right by trying to limit diesel emissions...if you have a health problem such as dirty diesel exhaust, you can't let it continue. The costs of cleaning up diesels should be shared between the parties, including the manufacturer.
        GoodCheer
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lad
        Why the federal government? Shouldn't we try to allocate costs to the end-consumer? If you hide the health costs of trucking (vs. rail or buying local) then the 'invisible hand' is just groping in the dark.
      • 1 Year Ago
      The other side of this is that shippers are required to obtain a certificate from their carrier(s) to verify that they are in compliance with the rule. So, the writing is on the wall for carriers. I can't recall a battle with CARB that CA carriers have won using the argument that the cost to comply is too great. It appears that progressive CA carriers are realizing that the bar is being raised with these rules and see opportunity while the marginal carriers continue to haul for near-nothing and complain about the cost of complying. Or, maybe trucking should go back to the days of being regulated with minimum rates to help pay for these programs.
      Car Guy
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have no problem with implementing new regulations as technology advances, however, I'm totally against government requiring changes retroactively on existing products. Mandating existing vehicles change when they meet all the requirements on the books when the product was built is totally unfair to the consumer and business.
        NL
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Car Guy
        It may be a hardship to the truck owner, but you have to balance that concern against the health consequences of letting pollution continue. Diesel pollution causes illness and increased mortality. Polluters are not paying for the consequences of their actions, regardless of what law or regulation was in effect that allowed them to pollute in the past. Making them stop is in the public interest.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NL
          Emissions standards need to change based on the needs of the current environment. It may not be fair to truckers, since they were not told beforehand. But the standard turn around for how often trucking companies buy new rigs... is not fair to the environment we all share.
          mylexicon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NL
          If the trucker has a legal vehicle, but you believe your health/environment could be improved if he updated his equipment, you pay him, in the same way you pay companies to produce the goods and services you want. When government creates policies like these it looks like they are working against the independent operators on behalf of corporate lobbyists.
          mylexicon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NL
          The trucking equipment was deemed legal and sanctioned by the state when the vehicle was purchased. I'm not sure what that has to do with your outlandish metaphor.
          GoodCheer
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NL
          " you pay him" Wait, I have to pay people to not endanger my health? So if I run around with a bottle of benzene, you'd pay me not to squirt it on you, and you'd feel good about it?
        wxman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Car Guy
        Agree with "Car Guy". Based on CARB's OWN data, on-road diesel contributed 2.25% of ambient PM10 in 2000. On-road gasoline vehicles contributed 6.49%, almost 3 times as much. Since new technology diesel engines produce
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @wxman
          Considering gasoline vehicles outnumber diesels by WAY MORE than 3:1.... that means diesels are the better bet, to implement tougher regulations. Most bang for your buck.
          wxman
          • 1 Year Ago
          @wxman
          (rest of comment apparently got cut off) ...less than 1% of the PM emissions produced by per-2007 diesel engines, and since essentially nothing has been done about PM emissions from gasoline vehicle (actually, GDI produces MORE PM emissions than MPFI), that gap has no doubt widened. I wonder how requiring filters to be retrofitted on the existing gasoline fleet would go over?
          wxman
          • 1 Year Ago
          @wxman
          Understood. That question was meant to be rhetorical since retrofitting filters on gasoline cars obviously wouldn't be cost-effective. Regulations have GREATLY reduced PM emissions from new diesel trucks (>99% since 2007). The question is - is retrofitting filters on engines that were not designed for them cost effective given the cost of retrofitting and the apparent operational problems being encountered? In my opinion, it's dubious for such a small source.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Car Guy
        Meh . . . if it is a relatively simple add-on, I have no problem with it.
      Workingman
      • 1 Year Ago
      Since soooo many want to continue to over-populate the planet these are the kind of things that have to happen. In fact this is just small potatoes. So much more needs to be done.
      delsolo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Clean air, who needs besides babies and people suffering from asthma?
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