Truckers fear Illinois regulators will adopt California regulations

(The Center Square) – Some are worried California trucking regulations may be adopted in Illinois.

Don Schaefer, executive vice president of the Mid-West Truckers Association, told The Center Square that regulators see truckers as easy pickings.

“They seem to be saying, ‘Let’s go after these guys,’” Schaefer said.

The California Air Resources Board has banned all trucks with engines older than model year 2010. Heavier trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds must have a 2010 or newer engine. California requires trucks to buy SmartWay verified low rolling-resistance tires to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by achieving a fuel consumption savings of at least 3% from the tractor-trailer combination.

Long-haul truckers whose trucks do not meet the California requirements have resorted to leaving their loads at the state border, where they can be transferred to trucks that meet California standards, Schaefer said.

“Some state regulators in Illinois would love to adopt all the California environmental regulations and make them the law of the land here in Illinois,” Schaefer said. “Some people in Springfield are really excited about jumping on this bandwagon.”

In Springfield and in Washington, regulators are ready to go ahead and adopt the California regulations, even though that would dramatically increase operating costs, particularly for small trucking companies and independent operators who are already being squeezed, he said.

A good percentage of truckers are owner/operators.

“They take a risk. They buy a trailer. They buy a truck. They pay their taxes and maintain their own needs,” he said. “We are looking for equity and common sense.”

Any industry that uses trucks in their business will be affected by the California standards, he said.

“From farmers to construction companies to delivery services, we are all basically in the same boat,” he said. “What happens to farmers who have older trucks? What happens to a lot of these ‘grainage trucks’ that are on the road right now? It would basically outlaw them.”

Trucks on the road today are 90% cleaner than trucks were 20 years ago, Schaefer said. The industry has spent billions of dollars to develop cleaner engines.

Don’t put California regulations on all truckers and make it something that has got to be done in the next two years, Schaefer said.

“Truckers are not against a clean environment. Not at all,” Schaefer emphasized. “We don’t want regulators coming after the industry with a sledgehammer. Let’s be reasonable about it and we can work it out.”

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