Trucking proposals could support Covid-19 restart: Laskowski

John G Smith

OTTAWA, Ont. – Canada’s newest finance minister says “decarbonization” will play a role in a federal Covid-19 recovery plan. And the head of Canada’s largest trucking association believes several trucking-related initiatives could support the goal.

“I think all Canadians understand that the restart of the economy needs to be green. It also needs to be equitable. It needs to be inclusive,” Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a media briefing yesterday. “And we need to focus very much on jobs and growth.”

(Photo: iStock)

While coronavirus presents a once-in-a-lifetime challenge, it also presents a chance to “really build back better,” Freeland said.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has included several environmental-related proposals in a Covid-19 Recovery Roadmap, which has been submitted to federal leaders who are looking for ways to restart an economy ravaged by Covid-19.

While several federal working groups are exploring “clean fuels”, for example, CTA president Stephen Laskowski stresses that diesel remains the trucking industry’s fuel of choice for the foreseeable future.

“Right now, diesel remains the only viable fuel – particularly for longhaul trucking,” he told TruckNews.com. “CTA is asking the federal government to work with us, the engine manufacturers, just the OEMs in general to develop a clean fuel road map for the trucking industry that’s viable and realistic for our sector.”

Options like biodiesel shouldn’t even be part of the conversation, he added.

“It’s time to move on from that technology. It was time to move on from that technology 20 years ago, let alone now.”

High concentrations of biodiesel are prone to waxing and plugging filters at low temperatures, presenting an operational challenge in cold weather.

The CTA is also asking the federal government to reinstate excise tax rebates that included exemptions for equipment like auxiliary power units and bunk heaters.

The program had been scrapped because of abuse in the airline industry, which had submitted claims for lighting and other electrical needs in its operations.

The Federal Excise Tax was first added to diesel in 1982 and focused on transportation fuel.

“If we’re looking for green measures, it was a way to incentivise carriers to use more and more of these devices,” Laskowski said.

The CTA is also asking for a harmonized strategy to crack down on the use of so-called “delete kits” that remove or disable emissions-controlling equipment.

Ontario has already launched plans to align the testing of emissions control systems and Periodic Mandatory Commercial Vehicle Inspection requirements, beginning in June 2021. Meanwhile, the province’s Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks has deployed a Vehicle Emissions Enforcement unit to target trucks and shops that bypass emissions rules.

The CTA call for a national speed limiter policy would also support the environmental goals, Laskowski said, referring to the top speeds of 105 km/h mandated for trucks in Ontario and Quebec.

“From a national aspect, it’s one of the simplest and easiest and cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions from trucks.”

John G Smith

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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