Trucker Warns of ‘Catastrophic’ Impacts on Trucking Industry Stemming from California’s Zero-Emissions Rules

By: Sam Watanuki | Last updated: Apr 17, 2024

Ohio trucker Monte Wiederhold is raising a red flag about California’s zero-emission vehicle standards. 

During an appearance on “FOX & Friends First,” he labeled the new regulations as “catastrophic” for both the trucking industry and the entire U.S. supply chain, stressing the severe consequences they could bring.

Zero Emissions? Zero Sense

Monte Wiederhold didn’t mince words when discussing the new emission laws. 

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He declared, “There is nothing about this law that makes any sense,” voicing his strong disapproval of the measures he believes could severely disrupt essential trucking routes across the nation.

Court Endorses California's Emission Plans

A federal appellate court has reinforced California’s environmental agenda, affirming the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow the state to set its own emission standards. 

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This significant legal backing could inspire similar actions in other states, potentially reshaping national environmental policies.

Warning: Supply Chain Crisis Ahead

Wiederhold spoke of a looming supply chain crisis intensified by these new regulations. 

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He explained, “So, if this mandate comes in, if they go forward with this nonsense, we’re going to be the supply chain crisis on steroids,” suggesting a broad and severe impact.

The Backbone of Trucking Threatened

Most of the trucking industry consists of small operators, and they stand to lose a lot under California’s new standards. 

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Wiederhold highlighted that small fleets, which make up “96% of the trucking industry,” are particularly at risk, stressing the potential for widespread economic damage.

A Trucker's Personal Financial Struggle

Discussing his own circumstances, Wiederhold shared that he operates a small fleet.

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 “I have a four-truck fleet myself,” he said, illustrating the direct financial impact these new rules could have on small business owners like himself.

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The Costly Toll of Going Green

Transitioning to electric could cost the industry billions, Wiederhold argues. 

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“This thing is going to cost untold millions, billions of dollars that we have no way that we’re going to pay for,” he lamented.

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Infrastructure Woes for Electric Vehicles

Wiederhold also brought up the inadequate infrastructure for electric vehicles, especially troubling for long-haul truckers. 

A close-up of a yellow electric vehicle charging symbol painted on a concrete parking lot floor,

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He recalled the recent problems faced by electric car drivers in Chicago, predicting even harsher conditions for truckers.

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Scarcity of Truck Stops and Charging Stations

The lack of sufficient truck stops already poses a problem, but the shift to electric trucks complicates things further. 

A row of electric vehicle charging stations with blue and black handles, marked with numbers and equipped with various connectors, ready for use

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Wiederhold raised concerns about finding enough rest areas and charging points, which are crucial for truckers on long routes.

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California's Ambitious Green Goals

Leading the charge on environmental reform, California aims to slash fossil fuel use by 86% by 2045 and ban gasoline-powered new car sales by 2035. 

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These targets, Wiederhold argues, will drastically change everyday American life.

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Predicting a Change in American Lifestyle

Wiederhold offered a stark prediction about the impact of these environmental measures. 

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He said, “We’re going to be in some Third World country-type status to where you’re going to go to the store or stand in line, and the shelves are empty,” indicating severe potential disruptions to daily life.

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A Turning Point for U.S. Trucking

As California enforces these strict standards, Wiederhold foresees a transformative period for American trucking. 

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He suggests that these new regulations will introduce significant logistical challenges, potentially reshaping the availability of goods and affecting the broader economy.

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Industry Readiness for Zero-Emission Standards

The trucking industry faces significant hurdles in meeting California’s zero-emission standards, with limited availability and high costs of electric trucks posing major challenges.

A large electric truck drives down an empty street

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As companies scramble to comply, the question of whether the industry can realistically meet these deadlines remains.

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Alternative Energy Sources and Their Feasibility

Hydrogen fuel cells offer a promising alternative to battery-powered trucks, potentially providing longer range and quicker refueling (via BAE Systems).

A large truck painted blue with the Bud Light logos on it driving on a street.

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However, the technology is still in its infancy in the trucking sector, with significant development and infrastructure needed to make it viable on a large scale.

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Government Incentives and Support

Federal and state incentives aim to ease the financial burden of transitioning to zero-emission vehicles.

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These incentives include tax breaks and grants, but for many small operators, the question is whether this support is enough to cover the substantial costs involved (via Transport Topics).

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Impact on Interstate Commerce

California’s strict emission standards could ripple across state lines, affecting interstate commerce and prompting legal challenges.

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This could lead to a patchwork of regulations, complicating logistics operations across the U.S.

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Global Perspectives on Emission Reduction

Countries like Norway and Japan are leading in emission reduction from commercial vehicles, employing stringent policies and advanced technology (via Climate Trade).

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The U.S. could potentially take cues from these nations to better implement and manage its transition strategies.

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Technological Advances in Truck Design

Innovations in electric truck design are accelerating, with companies like Tesla and Nikola developing vehicles that promise to meet the demands of long-haul trucking without emissions.

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These advances are crucial for the broader adoption of green technology in the industry.

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Logistics Companies' Adaptation Strategies

Major logistics providers, including FedEx and UPS, have begun integrating electric vehicles into their fleets, anticipating regulatory changes and aiming to reduce carbon footprints.

United Parcel Service package car prepares for HTS Systems customer pick-up in Pennsylvania.

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Their adaptation strategies are setting benchmarks for the rest of the industry.

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Economic Impact

Ideally, the hope is that the shift towards zero-emission trucks will spur job growth in green technology sectors while potentially leading to job losses in traditional areas of the trucking industry, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

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The economic impact is complex and varies widely across regions and sectors.

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Consumer Impact

As the trucking industry navigates these new regulations, consumers might face higher prices and longer wait times for products.

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The transition period could see temporary disruptions in supply chains, directly affecting product availability.

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Environmental Benefits

The push for zero-emission trucks is projected to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, particularly in urban areas.

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These environmental benefits are a key justification for the stringent standards.

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Training and Education Needs

Of course, new technologies will also require truckers and mechanics to gain new skills.

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Educational programs and training initiatives will be critical to prepare the workforce for this shift, ensuring they are equipped to handle new vehicle technologies.

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Long-term Industry Outlook

Despite Wiederhold’s concerns, long-term, the trucking industry may see a shift towards more sustainable practices, potentially leading to new business models and a reshaping of the entire industry.

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The adoption of zero-emission vehicles could also foster a more environmentally conscious approach to logistics.

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