Special Coverage



Perspective: Without Trucking, There Is Nothing

Thanks to the Engagement of ATA Members, the Nation Now Understands That Trucking Drives Everything

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Last month, American Trucking Associations reached its 90th year. For nine decades, ATA and its federation of 50 state trucking associations have been the leading voice for our industry in Washington and every state Capitol throughout the country. That is volume, reach and history no other voice in trucking can claim, and few industry associations can match.

While many stakeholder groups struggle for traction in today’s frayed political environment, our constant presence in the halls of power is why we succeed as an advocacy organization in advancing the interests of our members and notching wins for America’s trucking industry. This year alone, we have testified at five congressional hearings plus a roundtable discussion. Our grassroots are activated, with hundreds of industry advocates flanking Capitol Hill throughout 34 Calls on Washington since January, holding more than 300 meetings with members of Congress.

This show of force enables us to steer the legislative process toward our tier 1 priorities. We deliver a steady cadence of truth and common sense that cuts directly through the rhetoric and emotion peddled by our foes: trial lawyers chasing jackpot justice, self-promoting union bosses and radical environmental extremists. Together, they constitute a clear threat to our industry’s ability to grow and support our nation’s economic security and global competitiveness.

Our war with the plaintiff bar carries on — and we’re winning. In the past year, we have secured major victories in Florida and Iowa to curb abusive litigation against motor carriers. Elected officials at all levels of government are listening, and many are now acting. Since declaring lawsuit abuse a tier 1 priority in 2019, more than a dozen reform bills have been passed across the country, and a dozen more states are lining up to do the same.

Chris Spear


At the California Air Resources Board, unelected, ill-informed ideologues are clueless to the impact their zero-emission mandates will have on our industry, economy and consumers. Starting Jan. 1, 2024, California’s Advanced Clean Trucks rule takes effect, requiring the production and sale of “zero-emission” equipment. Come 2030, the Advanced Clean Fleets rule kicks in, mandating the purchase of that equipment, applying to all trucks operating in California and any state that adopts CARB policy.

After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chose to greenlight Sacramento’s sure-to-fail policies, and with a dozen CARB-toting states now eager to follow along, California is setting and enforcing national environmental policy.

We are clear-eyed about what this all means. The charging infrastructure required will not be in place in time. There won’t be more power flowing through the grid. Our manufacturers lack sustainable sourcing of key minerals such as lithium, cobalt, graphite and nickel. Are we to rely on communist China and Congolese child labor, or will the environmental lobby allow the Biden administration to grant mining permits here at home? We already know that answer.

How will product placement and price parity be achieved if our industry is forced to bow to CARB’s timelines? And if that reality hasn’t set in yet, what about operational capability for those who can comply? It currently takes 15 minutes to fill a diesel-powered truck to go 1,200 miles, regardless of extreme heat or cold. It can take six to 10 hours to charge an electric-powered truck during non-peak hours to go just 250 miles, under the best of conditions.

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These are the stakes today, underscoring why our advocacy efforts matter. We continue to educate lawmakers, the media and the public about our industry’s remarkable record in reducing emissions over the past 35 years. We continue to advance common-sense policy solutions that can unlock the environmental, safety and economic benefits of technology already available today.

For example, by repealing the World War I-era federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks, Congress can drastically reduce emissions while improving highway safety and boosting manufacturing jobs here at home.

These priorities, among others, are at the top of the agenda as we convene in Austin this week for our annual Management Conference & Exhibition. As we come together to chart our industry’s future, the staying power of our association over these past 90 years is a testament to our efficacy. Thanks to the engagement of our members, the nation now understands that trucking drives everything. We are here to remind America that without us, there is nothing.