California, it seems, just doesn’t like trucks. Period. There really doesn’t seem to be any other explanation for all of the extreme, ridiculous rules they keep passing. Oh sure, you could argue they want cleaner air so that’s why they put such strict emissions rules and a cap-and-trade program in place. But the benefits of those rules seem small in comparison to the damage they will do to the trucking industry.
A recent study released by the California Trucking Association suggests that these new rules could lead to a major increase in diesel prices in California. California doesn’t need higher diesel prices. It already has them. As of this writing, ProMiles puts the average price in California at $4.37 a gallon. Not the highest in the country (that would be Rhode Island), but pretty darn close.
And yet the CTA study says that once these new rules go into effect, the price of diesel could go upwards of $6.69 a gallon. No, that is not a misprint. And that’s only the beginning. If other states get wind of what California is doing and decide they like the idea, we could see diesel prices shooting up across the country. You think it’s bad now? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
OK, I don’t want to come off as an alarmist here but someone needs to tell California to wake up. We all want cleaner air, but we also want to be able to afford everything that is delivered by truck. Which – in case you haven’t figured that out, California – is literally everything.
If diesel gets that high in California, it could effectively kill that state’s trucking industry, as out-of-state carriers who can fill up cheaper in surrounding states come in and haul that freight at cheaper rates. Heck, I’d even bet more than a few smaller interstate trucking operations and owner-operators will start avoiding California altogether because a) they don’t want to pay that much for fuel and b) they don’t want to pay that much to upgrade their trucks to meet California’s increasingly strict emissions standards.
It’s not all that difficult to picture a future California where diesel is $6 or $7 dollars a gallon and everything in the stores is insanely expensive because trucks are so hard to come by. Shippers may have a hard time getting goods in and out of the ports because there aren’t any trucks left, so they’ll start relocating their shipments either north to Seattle or Vancouver or south into Mexico.
Oh sure, the super rich movie stars and big time executives of Hollywood will still be able to afford to live there, but probably not the guys who work the cameras, lighting and craft services tables behind the scenes. Those guys don’t make that much and may choose to flee the state if it gets too pricey. Hollywood as we know it would be gone. Don’t think so? There’s already a lot of filming done in other parts of the world because it’s too pricey in Hollywood. Vancouver is more than just a port city, you know.
Maybe you’re thinking this all sounds a bit extreme. Sure it does. But so does $7 diesel. There is a middle ground somewhere, just not, apparently, in California.