ATA's Spear: Trucking can't meet zero emission regs on California's timeline

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Updated Feb 17, 2023

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear on Wednesday warned Congress that the industry needed realistic federally-sponsored timelines and targets to reduce emissions, rather than allow California and other states to dictate standards.

Spear, in testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, noted that ATA worked with the Environmental Protection Agency on Phase I and Phase II emission reduction rules, as well as the SmartWay Transport Partnership, which has since become a model of public-private cooperation.

"To date, 98.5% of all emissions have been removed from our tailpipes, In fact, 60 trucks today emit what one truck emitted in 1988," Spear said, emphasizing that those gains, which include reductions of millions of tons of carbon, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions, were the result of collaborative regulatory processes and realistic goal setting. 

“This is not a debate about if we get to zero, but when. We’ll get there, just not on the timelines proposed by California. By excluding our industry (from the process of setting timelines and targets) in a mad dash to zero makes their timeline and targets not only unachievable… but guarantees they will fail,” Spear said.

To get to zero, Spear called for honesty and transparency about the road ahead, adding that sourcing rare minerals needed for millions of 5,000 pounds of truck batteries, the infrastructure needed to charge them and the additional electricity needed to power our trucks – full scale – doesn’t yet exist… "and won’t if you allow California to set the nation’s standard.”

If California’s proposals are allowed to set targets and timelines for emissions reductions, Spear said it will certainly impact the industry and the supply chain and pass disruptions down to consumers.

"Over the next decade, trucks will be tasked with moving 2.4 billion more tons of freight than they do today – the moment that slows or stops, Americans, your constituents, will want answers,” he said. “The responsible approach is also the realistic approach. Achievable timelines and targets matter. We’re committed to a cleaner environment. We’ve proven that. We simply ask that we be realistic about the path forward. Do that, and we’ll post the best environmental gains possible.”