California’s Advanced Clean Fleets rule does not go into effect for another six months, but it is already having unintended consequences for the drayage industry tasked with moving cargo in and out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Speaking at FreightWaves’ Future of Supply Chain even in Cleveland on Thursday, Harbor Trucking Association CEO Matt Schrap said that under the rule, starting in January 2023 any new entrant into the state’s drayage sector looking to access any of the state’s ports or Class 1 railroad yards will have to have haul with a zero-emissions truck. Under the rule, that essentially means a battery-electric or hydrogen-powered truck. Any current operator looking to add capacity to its fleet will be under the same restriction.
Because of the added equipment costs and other factors, “starting on that date we have motor carriers who are not going to be able to add additional capacity to meet shipper demand,” Schrap told John Kingston, FreightWaves’ oil market expert, during a fireside chat. “So on the front end, we see a lot more diesel trucks being added into the system right now to compensate for any swings that might come up.”
In addition, starting in February 2025, drayage companies will need to start reporting engine mileage, because a provision requires that diesel engines — starting with those manufactured in 2010 — be removed from fleets after a minimum of 13 years, or up to 18 years or 800,000 miles, Schrap said.
According to California Air Resources Board (CARB) estimates, that will translate to about 2,000 trucks serving the ports of LA and Long Beach effectively being removed overnight, he noted.
“The issue is infrastructure,” Schrap said. “If you do some back-of-the-napkin calculations, we’re talking just in 2025 alone, to support [replacing] those 2,000 vehicles, 150 to 200 additional megawatts [for electric trucks] will need to be available. And we are not there.”
Schrap said a major flaw in the way CARB rolled out the regulation is that the agency assumes that fleets will replace diesel-powered trucks one-to-one with electric trucks. “That’s how they do their emissions forecasting, but that’s not the case. We’re going to see more diesel trucks put into the system, and we’re going to see them stay in the system longer, because [CARB] has effectively removed that ability” for fleets to turn over their equipment sooner, he said.
CARB also miscalculated how the drayage industry operates, according to Schrap.
“The assumption for drayage is that it’s back to base every night. But we have trucks coming from all over the country. We have members coming from California’s Central Valley, which is considered a long-haul route. You cannot do a round trip from Fresno to LA-Long Beach on a single battery charge.”
Schrap insisted that his association and the trucking industry at large are not against moving to zero emissions. “Regulations are there for a reason, but this is not about air quality, this is about political expediency. CARB is unchecked at this point.”
Despite his issues with the agency and its clean fleet rule, his message to shippers is, “Bring your freight back to California,” he said. “The [West Coast dockworker labor contract] for the most part is finalized, and some of the dust is shaking from [California’s AB5 independent contractor rule]. We have the capacity right now.”
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