The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released an extremely vague press release, but one thing was clear: Consumer prices will rise in 2014 due to rigid new emissions standards targeting America’s truckers and farmers.
Beginning in model year 2014, new heavy-duty trucks and tractors must be fitted with environmentally-friendly engines that achieve significant reductions in CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. That means truck and tractor manufacturers will be forced to spend millions in research and design and pass the cost on to their customers who will — you guessed it — pass that cost on to American consumers, unless you believe what Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is saying:
“This is a win-win-win for the environment, businesses and the American consumer.”
Wishful thinking by LaHood, but nowhere in the press release does he spell out the real costs to America’s truckers and farmers who will soon have no choice other than to purchase these federally-mandated eco-friendly big rigs and tractors. LaHood, however, hypothesizes:
With the potential for significant fuel efficiency gains, ranging from seven to 20 percent, drivers and operators could expect to net significant savings over the long-term. For example, it is estimated an operator of a semi truck could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year, and save as much as $74,000 over the truck’s useful life. Vehicles with lower annual miles would typically experience longer payback periods, up to four or five years, but would still reap cost-savings.
Hey, Ray! Enough with the guessing games and speculation! Tell truckers and farmers how much they will actually pay for these new ‘green’ trucks and tractors. You were kind enough to note that they’d likely be going in to the red during at least the first year of ownership, meaning they won’t likely turn profits unless they jack-up their prices for transporting consumer goods and harvesting crops.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson also fails to look at the bigger picture that could unfold in 2014 and beyond if these new emissions standards make the cost of business for truckers and farmers too much to bear, and ultimately, puts them out of business:
“These new standards are another step in our work to develop a new generation of clean, fuel-efficient American vehicles that will improve our environment and strengthen our economy,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “In addition to cutting greenhouse gas pollution, greater fuel economy will shrink fuel costs for small businesses that depend on pick ups and heavy duty vehicles, shipping companies and cities and towns with fleets of these vehicles. Those savings can be invested in new jobs at home, rather than heading overseas and increasing our dependence on foreign oil.”
Again, wishful thinking by another big government bureaucrat for a best case scenario in which truckers and farmers can afford to purchase expensive new trucks and tractors that may or may not ‘pay for themselves’ over the years to follow.
The underlying fact is that American consumers will ultimately pay the price for the new emissions technology LaHood and Jackson are pushing, and right now, in this economy, that’s not a very enlightening scenario. And, if consumers are not willing to or can not afford to foot the bill for increased costs of everyday necessities –including food, toilet paper and oil transported by truckers — well, things are going to get ugly pretty quick.
NOTE: “NHTSA and EPA will jointly hold two public hearings: one in Chicago on November 15, 2010, and one in Boston on November 18, 2010. Sessions may end earlier than scheduled if everyone has had a chance to speak.” Those two dates are your only opportunities to make your voice heard, according to the EPA. Chances are you won’t be able to attend, so make sure your congressman and senators know what’s at stake for consumers, truckers and farmers.