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23 governors join California in opposing Trump mileage standards

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The Trump administration has threatened to challenge California's authority to set its own mileage standards, which are followed by about a dozen states. (FOTOSEARCH)

WASHINGTON  — Citing climate-damaging tailpipe emissions, 23 governors signed a pledge Tuesday backing California leaders in their showdown with the Trump administration over its plans to relax vehicle mileage standards .

The pledge by leaders of states and Puerto Rico, most of them Democrats, comes as the administration seeks to ease tougher mileage standards laid out by former President Barack Obama as part of his efforts against climate change. Legal challenges to Trump’s policy proposal threaten to disrupt the auto industry for years, and an influential auto industry trade group is renewing its appeal for the compromise.

The administration says American consumers increasingly want bigger, less-efficient SUVs and pickup trucks. It argues that demanding ever-more fuel-efficient vehicles will drive up automobile costs and keep less-safe, older vehicles on the road longer; opponents challenge that claim.

The administration is expected to release its final rules on the mileage changes in late summer or early fall. California and other states have promised litigation to block them.

The governors’ pledge commits to sticking broadly to the pre-President Donald Trump mileage goals, a program of annual tightening in mileage standards that reduce climate-changing carbon emissions. Transportation and the power sector are the largest sources of heat-trapping fossil fuel pollution in the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Michael Abboud said the administration was “pursuing one national standard to provide safe, affordable vehicles for consumers while also improving environmental outcomes.”

At stake is California’s ability to set its own emissions and fuel economy standards, a power granted by Congress in the Clean Air Act to combat the state’s smog problems in the 1970s. The state at one time had more stringent standards than federal ones, but the two sides voluntarily synced their standards under Obama.

The Trump administration has threatened to challenge California’s authority to set its own mileage standards, which are followed by about a dozen states.

The pledge says governors “will not compromise on our responsibility to protect the health of our communities, our climate, and the savings consumers stand to gain at the pump.” It promises “additional concrete actions to fulfill this duty and defend against any threats.”

Besides California and Puerto Rico, the pledge was signed by the leaders of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

The commitment from the states — representing a sizable share of the U.S. car market — underscores prospects for years of legal challenges and regulatory uncertainty for automakers if Trump moves ahead on the mileage freeze.

Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, urged automakers to get behind the states in the interests of cutting carbon emission and advancing cleaner-burning vehicles.

“Since the Trump administration seems determined to put all environmental progress into reverse, automakers should make clear that they will not support this rollback by working directly with California and these 23 states to drive automobile technology into the future,” Carper said in a statement.

But an auto industry group made clear it had worries about both sides’ position in the dispute.

“It is untenable to face a marketplace with different standards in different states, but it also untenable to face standards that rise so high that only a handful of electric vehicles can achieve them,” said Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Washington-based Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

“That is why automakers keep urging the federal government and states to find a middle ground that raises standards year over year while aligning with market demand.”

Trump has pushed automakers to back his approach. Last month, major automakers instead appealed for the administration to return to talks with California.

California Gov. Gavin Newson indicated he wasn’t optimistic about any breakthroughs with the administration.

“I don’t sense they’re sincere in their commitment to sit down and negotiate,” he said, and cited the administration’s overall backing for the country’s oil and gas industry.

 

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The Nation

Minnesota Trucking Association names Scott Post as 2019 driver of the year

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Minnesota trucking association names 2019 driver of the year
Scott Post, a contract truck driver for FedEx Ground, has been selected as the Minnesota Driver of the Year by the Minnesota Trucking Association. Post has been driving a truck for 41 years and has more than 2.5 million safe miles. (Courtesy: Minnesota Trucking Association)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The Minnesota Trucking Association named Maplewood, Minnesota resident, Scott Post, a professional truck driver contracted for FedEx Ground in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the 2019 Minnesota Driver of the.

“This award is a great way to honor the best in our industry. Driving safe is no easy task, especially when you take into consideration his daily driving conditions like congestion, driver distractions and Minnesota winters. Having 2.5 million safe driving miles is an outstanding accomplishment,” said John Hausladen, MTA president. “We’re proud to award Scott for this achievement.”

Post is employed by Spartan Logistics in Newport, Minnesota which is a contracted service provider for FedEx Ground. FedEx Ground provides 1-5-day delivery of small packages to all 50 states, plus Canada. Scott has been driving a truck for 41 years and has driven more than 2.5 million safe miles.

“Scott Post is one of the safest, most attentive, detail-oriented drivers I’ve ever had,” said Randy Kurek, Owner of Spartan Logistics. “He’s always ready to learn and at the same time, is a sponge for industry knowledge. He lives and breathes trucking.”  In addition to being an outstanding professional truck driver, Post is involved with many community organizations, including Operation Lifesaver, the World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics and the Minnesota Trucking Association’s Trucks for Toys program.

Throughout 2019, drivers are nominated by their companies and one driver is chosen each month to be the Driver of the Month. The drivers who are chosen meet a high standard of requirements including an outstanding driving and work record; contribution to industry and highway safety; and involvement in the community.

In January, MTA hosts the Driver of the Year Banquet and one of the twelve nominees is selected as Driver of the Year by a panel of judges including Matthew Marin, division administrator for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Deb Ledvina, director of commercial vehicle operations at MnDOT; and Captain Jon Olsen, Minnesota State Patrol.

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The Nation

Transportation Secretary calls on industry to ‘Put the Brakes on Human Trafficking’

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The Department of Transportation wants to train the transportation workforce, including professional truck drivers, on the issue of human trafficking. The DOT anticipates over 1 million employees across all modes of transportation will be trained because of this program. (iStock.com/WendellandCarolyn)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao has announced a series of efforts to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector. Secretary Chao was joined by leaders from Congress, state governments and the transportation industry responding to this call to action.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation is committed to working with our public and private partners to fight human trafficking on America’s transportation system,” Chao said.

Among the initiatives announced by Secretary Chao is a renewed focus on the “Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking” pledge to train the transportation workforce and raise public awareness on the issue of human trafficking across all modes of transportation.  Secretary Chao is challenging the transportation industry to commit to “100 Pledges in 100 Days.” The Department anticipates over 1 million employees across all modes of transportation will be trained because of this initiative.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, affecting millions of adults and children in the United States and worldwide. Victims are of every age, race, gender, background, citizenship, and immigration status. Some are trafficked within their own communities on various forms of transportation, while others are transported to new locations.

To amplify counter-trafficking efforts, Secretary Chao established an annual $50,000 award to incentivize individuals and entities, including non-governmental organizations, transportation industry associations, research institutions, and state and local government organizations, to think creatively in developing innovative solutions to combat human trafficking in the transportation industry. The Department will review applications and determine the individual or entity that will most effectively utilize these funds to combat human trafficking.

Secretary Chao also announced $5.4 million in grant selections through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative. Twenty-four organizations across the country will each receive funding for projects to help prevent human trafficking and other crimes on public transportation. A list of the selected projects is available online.

To support the Department’s counter-trafficking efforts, the DOT Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking completed a report in July 2019 that recommends actions the Department can take to help combat human trafficking and best practices for states and local transportation stakeholders.

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Former NASCAR driver and Talladega’s iconic trucker John Ray dies at 82

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Former nascar driver and talladega superspeedway’s iconic trucker john ray dies at 82
John Ray whose diesel big rig sporting the giant American flag became iconic during the track’s national anthem performances, has died. (Courtesy: Talladega Superspeedway)

TALLADEGA, Ala. —John Ray, whose big rig sporting a giant American flag became iconic during Talladega Superspeedway’s national anthem performances, has died, according to a news release. The former NASCAR driver was 82 years old.

Since 2001, Ray had driven his gold, brown and chrome Peterbilt with a large American flag down the Talladega frontstretch prior to the start of races.

“National anthems at Talladega Superspeedway are the most iconic, and it’s because of our great friend John Ray,” said Speedway President Brian Crichton. “What he brought to our fans can’t be duplicated. He was an incredible, passionate man who supported the track and all of motorsports with everything he had. His spirit will live here forever. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ray family.”

For more than 40 years, Ray was a member of the White Flag Club, a dedicated service group of local businessmen from surrounding communities that assist during race weekends.

In 2001, after the 9/11 terror attacks and the tragic passing of his longtime friend Dale Earnhardt Sr., Ray, along with then Talladega Superspeedway Track Chairman Grant Lynch, looked to boost the morale of a country, and a fan base that had gone through tough times.

“I had a crazy idea to run my rig out on the track with an American flag attached to the back,” said Ray, who lived down the street from the track in Eastaboga, three years ago. “It started off as a tribute to the country and to Dale.

“I never thought it would become the heart-felt moment that it has over the past some-odd years, but I’m glad it has become a tradition that means so much to the fans and the Talladega family. It represents such a sense of pride that we all share together as a nation and as a community. It is my honor and privilege to do it,” added Ray, who eventually gave up the driving duties of his big rig and handed them off to his late friend Roger Haynes, and last year to his son Johnny.

That wasn’t Ray’s first time at the 2.66-mile track. Ray, who owned “John Ray Trucking Company” since the early 70s, actually set the world speed record for a semi-truck and trailer around the mammoth track at 92.083 mph in 1975 — in a powerful Kenworth.

“We were testing brakes for a company out at the track,” Ray said. “One thing led to another — and there I was truck, trailer, and all — making my way around the track, trying to set a speed record. It was something else.”

Ray drove in the NASCAR Cup Series from 1974-1976. He competed in eight races, four at Talladega (where his best career finish was 22nd in 1974), but an accident at Daytona in 1976 ended his driving career. He continued as a car owner and essentially gave one of the sport’s greatest legends one of his first opportunities: 10-time Talladega winner Earnhardt. It would be Earnhardt’s third career start.

To read the full release, visit Talladega Superspeedway’s website.

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