Truckers join fight against low carbon fuel standard

In states like California that have adopted low carbon fuel standards, truckers are emerging as one of the biggest opponents – and with good reason. The American Trucking Association recently joined in a lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board over the state’s low carbon fuel standard, which it says would not only open the door to an increase in foreign crude oil, but would also make it harder for truckers in California to compete with those in neighboring states.

The truckers have a point. While we here at CEA have been largely focused on the threat such standards posed the overall domestic oil industry, low carbon fuel standards could also make interstate commerce a lot more difficult, especially if different states pass different variations of the law.

It’s very similar to what could happen on a global scale. While a preference for lighter crudes from far away could trigger a surge oil imports, businesses looking to save costs locally could simply hire truckers from, say, Nevada, instead of California, who must pay dearly to comply with the low carbon fuel standard and inevitably will pass that cost along to their customers.

In some instances, a low carbon fuel standard might require truckers to buy new trucks capable of running on so-called low-carbon fuels, at a cost of $100,000 or more per vehicle. It’s a staggering amount that truckers will be hard pressed to afford, particularly if they see increase competition from out-of-state fleets.

This story notes that out-of-state truckers running on more affordable heavy fuels “might continue to pass through parts of California with impunity.” Alternatively, in-state truckers based close to the border could just drive to another state to fill their tanks. A new set of winners, losers … and scammers would emerge. And all for what? Increased dependence on oil from Saudi Arabia and other places far from home.