OOIDA’s Weakley: CARB regulation committee off-TRAC

| 9/15/2009

Tom Weakley jumped at the opportunity to participate in a new panel of trucking industry representatives that would meet with the California Air Resources Board.

The group would be called the “Truck Regulatory Advisory Committee,” or TRAC, and would presumably advise the air quality control giant on the effectiveness and/or difficulties posed by its stringent emissions regulations.

As it turns out, little advising will be occurring.

Weakley, director of operations at the OOIDA Foundation, traveled to California in early September to participate in CARB’s new TRAC committee.

Weakley told Terry Scruton on Land Line Now that OOIDA enthusiastically joined the committee. The Association wanted to ensure that CARB realized the concerns and realities faced by owner-operators in meeting several recently approved trucking regulations.

Major motor carriers, vendors and trucking groups who attended the meeting were stunned by CARB’s apparent decision not to collect input from the industry, Weakley said.

“We were under the assumption that we’d be able to find some insight into different regulations that are being passed in California, and the impact that would have on the trucking industry – but that absolutely was not the case,” Weakley said. “They said they’re not going to talk about the regulations. They really didn’t want any advice.”

Instead, CARB wanted to help open lines of communication between the environmental agency and truckers, something OOIDA does through Land Line Magazine and the Land Line Now satellite radio program.

“I wasn’t really sure then why we were here,” Weakley said. “I got the feeling it was more of a feel-good session, to make you feel like you’re actually being a part of this. That was really hard on us, because I had a lot of comments on various regulations.”

OOIDA wasn’t the only group on the committee that was disappointed.

CARB’s greenhouse gas emissions rule, known by many as the SmartWay rule, requires single-wide low-rolling-resistance tires on trucks with 53-foot trailers. Weakley said a Canadian trucking group said that rule could eliminate them from being able to haul in California, because some Canadian provinces ban single-wide tires.

“They could lose millions of dollars worth of business in California, and they wanted to try and reason a little bit with these regulators,” Weakley said.

Weakley said some good did come from the committee’s first meeting. Several committee members told CARB that shippers should be included in CARB discussions, as trucking rates in California could see increases as carriers and owner-operators upgrade equipment to meet CARB rules.

“They nodded their heads and said, ‘yes,’ it was something they needed to consider,” Weakley said. “Will the shippers actually think they need to pay more to go into California during the current economic recession –  I doubt it. But at least that’s a point they took note of.”

CARB is happy that OOIDA communicates emissions news to truckers, but Weakley said the agency may not be as happy with OOIDA’s opinions on some regulations.

Recently approved CARB rules require engine or aerodynamic equipment upgrades for trucks that visit all California ports, haul reefer loads, and/or pull any load with a 53-foot trailer.

“We have a lot of problems with a number of regulations and the impact it’s going to have on our drivers, especially the small businessman who is struggling to survive,” Weakley said. “These regulations are going to be costly.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer