Commentary: D.C.’s clean truck bill upsets truckers
The American Trucking Associations wants the brakes put on a Washington, D.C., clean air bill that requires trucks entering the city after 2017 to be powered by at least some portion of alternative fuel.
In a letter signed by the ATA’s Robert Pitcher, the
organization told Phil Mendelson, D.C. council chairman, the Omnibus Sustainable DC Act would be harmful to the trucking industry. Paul Oakley of American Moving & Storage; Louis Campion of the Maryland Motor Truck Association; Tom James of the Truck Renting & Leasing Association; and P. Dale Bennett of the Virginia Trucking Association also signed the letter.
Announced in November, the legislation contains 11 bills that focus on improving air quality and expanding mass transit, among other issues.
“Although many motor carriers are considering whether natural gas or other alternative fuels are suitable for their operations, it will be many years — far longer than 2018 — before a significant portion of the commercial vehicle population of this country will be other than diesel vehicles,” the ATA representatives wrote in the letter.
They estimated the majority of trucks on the road would not be able to enter Washington if the bill stands. This scenario would “have an extraordinarily disruptive effect on the delivery of most freight into the city,” they warned.
According to IHS Global Insight, more than 38,000 tons of freight is carried into the city each day.
When Mayor Vincent Gray unveiled the law, he said it was intended to make D.C. a safer place to live.
“Our message today is clear — sustainability is health — and our Sustainable DC Plan is about creating the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the nation in one generation,” Gray said at the time. “District residents from Southern
Avenue to Western Avenue and everywhere in between
deserve to live in a healthy, sustainable, equitable and thriving city.”
In the letter, the ATA noted that D.C. lawmakers probably didn’t realize the full scope of the act and should reconsider their proposition.
“We recommend that the district rely instead on market forces and federal regulations to improve the environmental friendliness of the diesel fleet and use targeted incentives — as indeed other provisions of the act embody — where necessary,” they said.
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