California Environmental Regulations Are Driving Truckers Out of Pennsylvania

The Golden State's new rules—which Pennsylvania's Environmental Quality Board opted to copy—will increase the cost of a new truck by about one-third.


Pennsylvania's Peter Brothers Trucking delivers goods all across America. Owner Brian Wanner says Pennsylvania bureaucrats now are driving him out of his home state.

"We have no say," complains Wanner in my new video. "We can't do anything about it."

"No say" because Pennsylvania's new rules don't come from Pennsylvania. They come from California.

"I don't want to be anything like California!" complains Wanner.

Too bad for him and other Pennsylvania truck owners, because Pennsylvania's Environmental Quality Board decided their state will automatically copy California regulations.

California's rules will raise the price of a new truck by about one-third. Trucks that once cost $190,000 will now cost about $260,000.

California regulators said this new air-pollution regulation is needed because the trucks Wanner drives "contribute greatly to…serious health and welfare problems."

That's ridiculous, says Wanner. "We have come so far in the last 40 years. In 1980, one truck produced as much [pollution] as 60 trucks today."

"So to reduce pollution, we want people to buy new trucks," I point out.

"But if you put these costs on us that we cannot afford, we're going to just run the older trucks!" responds Wanner.

"The regulators don't think about that?" I ask.

"They do not!" Wanner replies. "They do not see the consequences of what they're doing."

Now truckers like Wanner will just buy trucks in neighboring states.

"We can go to Ohio and get cheaper trucks," he says.

So there won't be any pollution reduction. The new rule will just hurt Pennsylvanians who sell trucks.

Who are these regulators? Pennsylvania's Environmental Quality Air Board is mostly made up of people from unrelated departments, like the Fish and Boat Commission, the Game Commission, the Historical and Museum Commission. I doubt that many know much about air pollution.

"The whole idea of having a regulatory board like this is, 'Oh, these people are experts,'" says attorney Caleb Kruckenberg of the Pacific Legal Foundation. "'They know what they're talking about. They're smarter than the lawmakers.' But if you look at the board, that's not true. These are just random bureaucrats who work in the government, and they say, 'I don't know. Let's follow California.'"

Kruckenberg is suing Pennsylvania on behalf of truckers like Wanner, arguing that what Pennsylvania does violates the Constitution.

"Nobody in Pennsylvania has ever voted for the standards that now control Pennsylvania."

I push back. "So what? California seems to have a lot of money. I could see a state saying, 'Yeah, let their regulators figure out how we reduce pollution, and we'll save money doing what they do.'"

"If people want something," Kruckenberg replies, "their legislature is supposed to pass it."

California's rules will soon get still more expensive because Gov. Gavin Newsom has decreed that soon, all new vehicles must be electric.

"But electricity comes from fossil fuels!" Kruckenberg points out. In Pennsylvania, some comes from coal, and most comes from natural gas.

So to power all-electric trucks, Pennsylvania will burn more fossil fuels.

Still another problem: electric trucks are heavier.

"That's harder on the roads," says Wanner. Also, "electric trucks have a very low mileage radius, so you can't work all day. It's nothing that you can take across the United States."

Pennsylvania's regulators don't seem to care. They just want to do what California does.

"Why would we allow our state to give away their lawmaking procedures to California?" asks Wanner. "That's not the American way. If we want to follow California, we can move there! I don't want to be anything like California."