WaPo Hails New Trucking Regs, Insists Industry & Enviros Both Happy, Leaves Out Criticism from Independent Truckers Group

August 10th, 2011 4:45 PM

Washington Post staffer Juliet Eilperin portrayed proposed new federal regulations on heavy-duty trucks and buses as having hearty agreement by both environmentalists and trucking industry lobbyists.

Unfortunately Eilperin left out the dissenting remarks of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which blasted the rule change as harmful to the small-business truckers it represents.

From an August 9 OOIDA press release:

“By totally ignoring the impact on small-business trucking, the EPA has demonstrated yet another example of our wretchedly broken regulatory process,” said Joe Rajkovacz, Director of Regulatory Affairs for OOIDA. “Congress should take action when they return in September to rein in the bureaucracy and push forward regulatory reform legislation that has already been introduced.”

The Association contends the EPA made an irresponsible mistake in its regulatory analysis by excluding the impact on those who actually buy and drive large trucks and by focusing only on truck manufacturers. OOIDA says this approach will only serve to drive up the costs for the small businesses who operate an overwhelming majority of the nation’s trucking businesses. Nearly 96 percent of registered motor carriers in the U.S. operate 20 or fewer trucks.

“They also totally overlooked the most effective fuel-savings method of all,” added Rajkovacz. “Driver training, which is responsible for 35 percent of fuel economy and which costs far less than any new technology, should have been the priority.”

What’s more, the OOIDA insisted that the regulations will be easy for large firms to comply with, but almost impossible for smaller firms and independent drivers:

The Association believes that large motor carriers use SmartWay participation in order to get compensation from shippers for appearing “green.” As a result, this rulemaking does not represent any cost increase to them. All new trucks sold to large fleets were likely already either fully SmartWay-certified or had incorporated most of the certified technologies used under this rule. OOIDA believes that EPA is taking credit to over-sell this rulemaking based on a business activity that is already occurring within large fleets.

“Small-business motor carriers and owner-operators don’t enjoy this same benefit and will be forced to comply on their own dime,” said Rajkovacz.

Yet in Eilperin’s 16-paragraph story page A12 story, there wasn’t even so much as a mention of OOIDA’s complaints. Indeed, Eilperin insisted that “[t]he regulations were welcomed by trucking industry officials, a response unlike that received by recently announced fuel-efficiency standards for passenger cars and light trucks, which prompted a contentious behind-the-scenes battle in Washington.”

"Everyone was sort of patting everyone else on the back," Eilperin quoted Bill Graves of the American Trucking Association (ATA), an Arlington, Va.-based lobby group that represents 37,000 members.

But OOIDA's Joe Rajkovacz, on the other hands, sees it more like back-scratching.

“The new rule is just another example of big-moneyed interests working with government to protect their own bottom line,” Kansas City Star reporter Steve Everly quoted Rajkovacz.

OOIDA, by the way, claims to have “more than 150,000 members," or more than four times members as ATA.

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