Will Canada copy Phase 2 GHG?

Feb. 5, 2016
CANADA would be making a mistake if it simply copies the Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas regulation, as it did with Phase 1, according to David H Bradley, president & CEO of Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA).

CANADA would be making a mistake if it simply copies the Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas regulation, as it did with Phase 1, according to David H Bradley, president & CEO of Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA).

Bradley said the CTA is working with the Canadian government to explain to them this is not like automobiles because Canada has a different fleet with different operating characteristics.

“We have a different climate, different topography, different weights, and very different operating conditions that have not been taken into account by the EPA,” he said. “Equipment, when it comes into Canada, needs to be certified and tested in Canadian conditions so that we don’t have these liability/durability problems. The low rolling resistance tires—there have been some issues. There have been issues with side skirts in terms of buildup of salt to keep the snow down. They’re very hard to keep clean. There are issues in terms of automatic tire inflation devices—problems with ice and snow buildup. We simply can’t take US technology and transpose it in a Canadian situation.”

Bradley said the EPA spent the 1990s and up until 2010 progressively implementing more stringent regulations to make tractor engines smog-free. He said that the mission didn’t come without a price.

“It came in terms of an environmental surcharge on equipment,” he said. “More important was the impact in terms of reliability and durability of the equipment. Right now, many fleets in Canada are carrying a 15% surplus of tractors just because of the increase in downtime with the new engines. EPA rushed to market, and we had to use basically untested and unproven technology. The kinks aren’t all out yet.

“You may think that we’re environmental leaders. We’re probably the farthest thing from it. The US is much tougher in terms of the environment, but when it comes to heavy vehicles, the approach of the Canadian government has been to mirror what the EPA does, so they did that with Clean Air Quality regulations and with Phase 1 of the GHG, which covers 2014 to 2018.

“Some of our manufacturers will disagree with me, but Phase 1 wasn’t a great leap forward so Canada could get away with following what the US was doing, basically word for word. You can see what they’re planning in terms of Phase 2. Our concerns are that we can’t have a repeat of what happened in Phase 1. 

“I’d say that in terms of fuel economy and productivity, Canada has a much more innovative history than the US does. The US industry has found basically 92% of all tractor miles are with the tandem-tandem 80,000-pound tractor van trailer. In Canada, we have at least 10 common configurations where we are able to get up to 140,000 pounds at the maximum. Even our tandem-tandems can do 90,000 pounds.

“When you add that payload in, on a payload basis the Canadian fleet emits 22% less CO2 to move a ton of freight 100 miles than a typical US operation. That wasn’t accounted for by the EPA. We want the manufacturers to have credit for that so we don’t have to have some of unproven stuff that likely is going to be part of the regulation added to our equipment and go through this whole reliability/durability thing.”

In his presentation, “Current Issues in the North American Trucking Industry: A Canadian Perspective,” Bradley analyzed other regulatory issues that affect trailers:

•  Boat-tails. “We recently developed a new national standard. We were told that standard might be mimicked by NHTSA because there are still some issues in terms of what’s allowed and not allowed. In Canada, we had to cut boat-tails down to comply with rear underride laws, but that has since been addressed.”

•  Side guards. “Rigid side guards are becoming a bigger political issue, particularly in cities where cyclists just can’t avoid cutting in around trucks. So they’re making turns and running into rear wheels, so we have politicians looking to implement European-style rigid side guards. We have a federal election under way in Canada, and it’s only the governing party that for now doesn’t think it’s a good idea.”

•  60-foot trailers. “In many provinces, we allow a 60-foot-6 inch trailer. It can’t get into a lot of facilities. But they’re legal and they’re there, and we’ll continue to work on the design.”

Bradley analyzed the major challenges for carriers:

•  Rates. “After 30 years, I continue to be amazed that members tell me it has no margin in it. Costs keep going up, and somehow they are staying in business. We were seeing a firming in rates until the last year or so. But with the capacity situation, we’ve seen some softness there.”

•  Driver shortage. “It’s a worldwide phenomenon. But in Canada, we’re seeing it in spades. The ATA estimates the shortage in the United States between now and 2020 will reach 350,000 drivers. We use different methodologies, but we estimate we need 33,000 by 2020. It’s a complex issue. There is no silver bullet for solving it. Compensation is always part of the equation. There has been very little growth in driver wages.”

Despite all the issues, Bradley remains bullish on the industry.

“The markets will go up and down, and the mix of freight and the trajectory of trade will change,” he said. “The names of companies will change. But whatever people are consuming for most part will continue to be moved by trucks. I think we can make things better, but I am very bullish going forward.”    ♦