American Trucking Associations CEO and President Chris Spear calls emissions compliance...

American Trucking Associations CEO and President Chris Spear calls emissions compliance deadlines “unrealistic” for the trucking industry at the the Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting.

Photo: Jack Roberts

American Trucking Associations CEO and President Chris Spear called on members of the Technology and Maintenance Council to join together to push back against what he called “unrealistic” diesel exhaust emissions mandates emanating from the California Air Resource Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The next decade could fundamentally reshape our industry if we do not speak loudly and rationally and with volume to our lawmakers,” Spear told attendees at the Town Hall Meeting in the Orlando Convention Center on Feb. 27. “Our industry is now faced with unachievable CARB emissions goals. And for 40 years, this industry has reshaped its emissions outcomes to the point that 98% of emissions have been removed from our tailpipes. And we are committed to removing the remaining 1.5% of emissions that remain. But just not on the timeline that California thinks is doable. These mad emissions dashes are going to fail. And the people behind them are going to be embarrassed when they do. And it is ATA’s job to put these issues front and center before our lawmakers.”

Despite the growing move toward battery-electric trucks, Spear said electrification will not solve emission issues in the short term.

“Where are the minerals needed for these battery systems — lithium, graphite and cobalt to name a few — going to come from? China? The Congo? The government says it will open new mining leases here in the U.S. But we all know how long that will take. I look at TMC as problem solvers, and call on its member to join ATA in helping mold regulations that will solve these emissions problems. But do so in a responsible way.”

Investing for the Long Haul

Citing the ongoing trucking manpower shortage, particularly for drivers and technicians, Spear also urged TMC members to reaffirm their ongoing commitment to training and recruiting.

“TMC understands that training is the foundation of any industry’s success,” Spear said. “And I say that it is paramount that we extend that idea by attracting new talent by investing in ... every new individual we hire into trucking. We need to send a message: ‘You have a future if you join the trucking industry.’ We need to promote that fact that this industry offers good pay without the expensive investment in a college education. And we need to make it clear that we will invest in you if you join trucking and stay with us for the long haul. That is a message that we need to relay to the country today.”

Spear also noted that ATA remained engaged with Congress and was working both parties in an extremely partisan environment.

“The new Congress has a three-vote margin, a split Senate, and a we have a Democratic administration," he said. "Regardless, our job is to remind them that we matter. We are the glue of this economy. We are an integral part of the supply chain. We are now through the darkest days of the pandemic supply chain issues. And our economy continues to be No. 1 in the world. Our job at ATA is to make sure your story is told at the highest levels of our government. We make sure that your elected officials have a granular understanding of why trucking matters, and that they don’t forget it. And our voice is much louder, and more clear, if we are all united in delivering that message.”

About the author
Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts

Executive Editor

Jack Roberts is known for reporting on advanced technology, such as intelligent drivetrains and autonomous vehicles. A commercial driver’s license holder, he also does test drives of new equipment and covers topics such as maintenance, fuel economy, vocational and medium-duty trucks and tires.

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