Fuel Smarts

Trucking Industry Warns D.C. Diesel Registration Proposal Will Hurt City

December 05, 2013

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A proposed ban on diesel-powered vehicles in the District of Columbia has drawn a strong response from a coalition of trucking industry groups. The coalition warned the D.C. Council that provisions in the recently introduced Sustainable D.C. Omnibus Act of 2013 would have “significantly harmful effects on the District’s economy and on the quality of life of District residents.”

The provision would ban registrations of new diesel-powered vehicles: commercial trucks, buses, automobiles and fire trucks after 2017. Because of interstate registration compacts, this would effectively outlaw any new diesel-powered vehicles from crossing the District line, according to groups opposed to the plan.

“We’re very concerned that this provision, which is unnecessary to achieve the goals of the overall bill, would have a number of adverse effects on the residents and businesses in our nation’s capital,” said Bob Pitcher, vice president of state laws for the American Trucking Associations. “If enacted as written, there will be serious disruptions to the supply chain for DC, which receives the vast majority of its good via truck.”

Supporters argue the legislation, which is a package of 11 bills, would make D.C. one of the “greenest” cities in the country and provide tax rebates to vehicle owners who convert a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle to run on alternative fuels. It would also provide tax rebates to promote installation of cleaner fuel fueling stations for compressed or liquefied natural gas, propane, or electric recharging when the site is accessible to the public.

In a letter to the Council, ATA, along with the American Moving and Storage Association, Truck Renting and Leasing Association, Maryland Motor Truck Association and Virginia Trucking Association, warned that there are several possible outcomes of the proposal, all of them negative.

“Most likely, the District will find itself not benefitting from advances in safety and emissions technology more found on newer trucks, meaning progressively older and older vehicles will be delivering to the city,” Pitcher said. “Shippers may also choose to receive smaller, more frequent deliveries in smaller gasoline-powered vehicles … many, many gasoline-powered vehicles to add to one of the nation’s already most congested cities.

“However, it may be as time goes on that carriers may simply choose not to send trucks into the District at all,” he added. “While inconvenient for District residents, the ban on diesel trucks will certainly be a boon for the economies of Maryland and Virginia who stand to benefit from D.C. residents looking elsewhere for essential goods.”

“We encourage the D.C. Council to drop this provision in order to safeguard the economy and quality of life of their city,” Pitcher said.

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