by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
I recently wrote about “How the Budget Stops California from Setting North Carolina’s Transportation Policy.”
I described how Gov. Roy Cooper had signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” in 2020 with California Gov. Gavin Newsom to align North Carolina’s regulation of trucks and buses with California’s as well as promote sales of electric vehicles and depress sales of conventional, gasoline-powered vehicles. I then explained that in 2022, Cooper issued an executive order based on it to have the state Department of Transportation essentially put California’s environmental rules into the state’s administrative code. I noted that using the DOT in this fashion sought to go around the state’s no-more-stringent law for environmental rulemaking.
Fortunately, the General Assembly put a stop to it. Such policymaking is ultimately their constitutional authority, not the governor’s. State law now makes it clear that “no agency of the State … may adopt and enforce standards relating to control of emissions from new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, including requirements that mandate the sale or purchase of ‘zero-emission vehicles,’ or electric vehicles.” The DOT is expressly included in this prohibition.
A recent episode of “Stossel TV” (see video below) shows why this law is so important. Legislators pulled North Carolina trucking out of harm’s way.
Host John Stossel explores the madness of Pennsylvania trucking being harmed by regulations forced on them by California. On July 10, 2020, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf had signed that same “Memorandum of Understanding” with California Gov. Newsom (in fact, the same day Gov. Cooper signed it).
Pennsylvania’s legislature, however, is allowing this usurpation of their authority. Stossel finds it “crazy.”
The episode teaser states (emphasis added):
Pennsylvania regulators are forcing truck drivers to buy trucks outside Pennsylvania. The crazy part: they didn’t even make the rules; they were made by California.
“We have no say, we can’t do anything about it,” says Brian Wanner the owner of Peter Brothers Trucking, “I don’t want to be anything like California.”
But that’s too bad, because Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board decided to automatically copy rules from California. The newest rules will raise the cost of new trucks by more than $50,000. The regulators say these rules are important to stop pollution.
That’s dumb, says Wanner, “In 1980, 1 truck produced as much as 60 trucks today.” “So, we want people to buy new trucks,” I ask?
“You want people to buy new trucks,” responds Wanner. “But if you put these costs on us that we cannot afford, we’re going to just run the older trucks.”
That’s something the regulators don’t think about. In fact, there’s a lot they don’t think about. Their decision hurts truck sellers, won’t stop pollution, could be unconstitutional, and will only get more expensive when California mandates “all electric.”
Here’s the episode: