California Dreamin’: Sustainable Freight Action Plan Released

Lays out states blueprint for adopting zero-emissions trucks

In late July California issued its public policy statement telegraphing how it will once again attempt to install a command and control (top down) interference in how goods are transported within the state. The ineptly named California Sustainable Freight Plan claims to: “provides a vision for California’s transition to a more efficient, more economically competitive, and less polluting freight transport system. This transition of California’s freight transport system is essential to supporting the State’s economic development in coming decades while reducing harmful pollution affecting many California communities.”

So what does the Plan say about its goals to make trucking operations more “efficient and economically competitive?” Nothing much, it is really a manifesto of strategies that is mostly focused on environmental goals to be implemented over the next few decades by bureaucrats. I used the word “manifesto” to describe the 30 page paper purposely because that accurately describes this declaration by those who have turned environmental zealotry into a new religion, actually more of a form of “environmental neodruidism” which is an ideal that generally promotes harmony and worship of nature.


Oftentimes when doing radio interviews I refer to the politicians in Sacramento and how they rule as a modern reincarnation of the old Soviet Politburo. I am purposely making the connection between them and old Communist style governance. The Sustainable Freight Plan did not disappoint me by using some of the same rhetorical phrases from that failed bygone era.

“Five Year Plans”

Throughout the Plan references are constantly made to goal setting in 5-year increments. Five Year Plans were how the Soviet Union created a series of goals for economic development – mostly never achieved because of centralized government control. But miraculously the bureaucrats and politicians in Sacramento think they can ignore history and they will fare better with their own 5-year Plans!

The Plan ultimately pivots towards implementing Gov. Brown’s Executive Order B-30-15 issued in April of 2015. That Executive Order established a 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels, addressing the need for climate adaptation, and directing State government to:

  • Incorporate climate change impacts into the State’s Five-Year Infrastructure Plan.
  • Update the State’s comprehensive strategy for safeguarding against climate impacts.
  • Factor climate change from a lifecycle perspective into State agency planning and investment decisions.
  • Implement measures under existing agency and departmental authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Governor Brown further identified five key climate change strategy pillars for California to help achieve the 2030 emissions reduction target:

  • Reducing petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent.
  • Increasing the amount of electricity derived from renewable sources to 50 percent.
  • Doubling the efficiency savings achieved at existing buildings.
  • Reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants.
  • Managing natural and working lands so they can store carbon.

Notice anything missing pertaining to increased freight mobility? There is zero, zilch, nada anything to do with actually improving highway infrastructure (maintain and build highways) to reduce congestion and increase the mobility of commerce – that is the only meaningful strategy that would enhance truckings efficiency and economic competitveness.

Others in the trucking industry have been less willing to be critical of the politics leading to these policies instead prefering to chose their words in a way designed to garner favor and a get a few “table scraps” if they just play nice. Rent-seeking ( e.g. When a company lobbies the government for loan subsidies, grants or tariff protection) has become how many of the larger industry stakeholders are behaving with every announcement of further environmental encroachment into the trucking industry – “just give us taxpayer dollars and we’ll gladly buy all the latest and greatest technology offered in new trucks.”

What a sham. I’ve been directly involved in two EPA Deisel Emission Reduction Grant (DERA) programs and fought tooth and nail to garner crumbs for owner-operators and small-business truckers. With 97% of the industry comprised of fleets with 20 or fewer power units do you think 97% of all available grant funding has gone to small-businesses (including Prop.1B grant funding)?  No, and its not even close.

It’s easy to profess feailty with green politics when you have lined up at the trough of public money to subsidize your business. Most of us learned a long time ago nothing is free and there isnt enough free stuff to go around to everyone, unless you believe in fairy tales and that is exactly what California’s Sustainable Freight Plan is – a fairy tale dressed up as public policy.


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