Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fleet Operators Split on New Truck Regulations

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fleet Operators Split on New Truck Regulations

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Truck fleet operators are of two minds about new fuel efficiency standards released this week by the federal government.

"You can't legislate innovation," said Robert Wood, owner of Pacesetter Trucking Co. in Tulsa. "Yeah, the truck industry would love to have higher-mileage trucks, if the cost-efficiency is there. It's a no-brainer. But can't force it."

"By improving the fuel mileage rates, we will have less dependence on oil and less pollution," said Mike Stone, president of Beaver Express in Tecumseh. "It's going to be a long-term goal that I believe will be worth the effort."

The Obama administration this week finalized its second phase of fuel efficiency standards for large trucks, directing manufacturers to reduce carbon emissions as part of the U.S. effort to reduce climate change impact. The rules will affect manufacturers first and then work into the general population as people buy the new vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimated the technology upgrades will initially increase average costs per vehicle by $16,000. That didn't surprise Stone.

"It's an investment," Stone said. "And those costs will trickle down to customers as truck fleets make their upgrades. That's how we'll get there."

On the other hand, Wood questioned whether a regulatory agency should be forcing how the free market evolves. Wood's 20 trucks are owned entirely by other operators and individual drivers, although he also has the perspective of a 200-vehicle fleet manager from a previous job.

The standards also apply to heavy-use vehicles such as buses and garbage trucks. Waste Management, a Houston-based company that contracts in several metro areas in Oklahoma for curbside disposal, was still reviewing the new regulations and was not prepared to comment, spokeswoman Greta Calvery said. However, the company joined FedEx, Wabash National and PepsiCo in urging the U.S. Department of Transportation late last year to set higher standards. …

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