Truckers are sounding the alarm that new EPA regulations meant to crackdown on air pollution and force the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles could cripple the U.S. food supply chain.
The American food supply chain is a complex network that ensures the timely delivery of fresh produce, dairy products, meats, and other essential items to our grocery stores – and ultimately into our homes and onto our kitchen tables.
Truckers are the backbone of this supply chain, and right now they're warning that these new emission standards could have "catastrophic" consequences and leave our food supply chain "dead in the water." In this article, we will delve into the specific regulations that truckers are warning us about, explore the challenges they face in complying with them, and the potential consequences that could jeopardize the stability of the American food supply chain.
Understanding the EPA's Regulations:
At the heart of the issue are the EPA's regulations, like the Greenhouse Gas Phase 3 (GHG3) rule, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning heavy-duty trucks to electric vehicles. The new emission standards, which the EPA themselves call "significantly more stringent," officially went into effect March 27, 2023, and they will apply to all new trucks sold after 2027.
While the EPA's goals might be noble, truckers argue that some of the regulations are impractical to the point of impossible and fail to consider the unique challenges the trucking industry faces. They also say the timeline is too much too soon.
In an article penned by the American Trucking Associations titled “The 7 Supply Chain Sins of EPA's GHG3,” they argue that setting the new standards for 2027 pulls the rug out from under both manufacturers and fleets and will ultimately result in "severe economic disruptions."
The Concerns of Truckers:
Truckers are deeply concerned about the impact of these regulations on their livelihoods and the broader food supply chain. One of the key worries is the cost associated with upgrading their fleets to meet the new emission standards. Many truckers operate on thin profit margins, and the financial burden of complying with these regulations could result in bankruptcies and job losses.
The cost of purchasing electric trucks, installing charging stations, and training drivers to operate these new vehicles is a major roadblock for many small and independent trucking businesses – which make up the vast majority of the industry.
JKC Trucking Vice-President and Co-Owner Mike Kucharski told Fox News Digital that 95% of the trucking companies out there are small businesses operating ten or fewer trucks, and they'll be squeezed out of business by the new standards.
The EPA estimated the technology required to meet the new standards will cost roughly $2,500 to $8,000 per vehicle, but the American Truck Dealers Association (ATDA) disagrees wildly. According to their estimates, it’s more like a $42,000 increase per truck.
In addition, the limited range and longer refueling time of electric trucks compared to their diesel counterparts make it difficult for long-haul truckers to meet their delivery deadlines.
According to Kucharski: “These regulations are not practical and almost impossible for five reasons. The costs are astronomical. Truckers will not be able to afford these things… These new machines, infrastructure, we're not ready for that. Testing data is slim to none. It's being done right now. Driving range is way less than we currently have, and it's going to have… less payload… and then the worst part is the American people are going to pay for all these new trucks."
The Economic Fallout:
The economic consequences of the EPA's regulations on the American food supply chain cannot be ignored. The National Association of Manufacturers estimates that these regulations could put at least 852,100 jobs at risk and cause a staggering $162.4 billion decline in economic activity. These numbers are alarming and paint a clear picture of the potential devastating impact on not only truckers but the broader economy as well.
Disruptions in the Food Supply Chain:
The consequences of these regulations could be dire for the American food supply chain. Trucking companies may be forced to downsize or close their operations altogether, leading to a reduction in transportation capacity and a shortage of drivers – and a grim outlook on the U.S. food supply chain. The trucking industry plays a vital role in transporting fresh produce, meat, and other perishable goods from farms and processing plants to markets across the country. In fact, according to the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry moves 70% of all the freight tonnage in the United States.
Delays and disruptions caused by the transition to electric vehicles could result in increased costs, delays, and spoilage of perishable items, leading to significant shortages and higher prices for consumers.
The EPA's new regulations pose a significant threat to the American food supply chain. Truckers, who are at the forefront of this industry, are warning us about the potential consequences of these regulations. It is critical that policymakers carefully consider the concerns raised by truckers and work towards finding solutions that balance environmental goals with the practical realities faced by the trucking industry. The stability of the American food supply chain depends on it.
Here's a final haunting warning from Kucharski: “My concern is that if this technology fails, the entire supply chain will be dead in the water. Failure is not merely inconvenient, it's catastrophic.”