California-Only Diesel Fuel To Cost More, Damage Economy?

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How do you solve a problem like diesel?

On the one hand, diesel cars are highly fuel-efficient on longer runs, and produce good power and torque figures in their modern-day guise. It's also vital for the transportation and logistics industry.

On the other, diesel cars are more capital and materials-intensive to make, require stricter control of emissions, and the fuel is typically more expensive. The latter could be set to get worse for Californians too, with a report suggesting that clean air directives from CARB will lead to job losses and drive up the cost of diesel fuel significantly.

According to CSPnet, special blends of California-only diesel could push prices up to $6.69 per gallon by 2020.

That would be inconvenient for the average diesel driver, with efficiency savings negated by the high pump prices. For the average 2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI driver doing 15,000 miles per year, fuel bills would rise from $1,800 to $2,950 per year (figures from

However, it would be devastating for the trucking industry, which makes up 14 percent of California's economy.

The California Trucking Association (CTA) study predicts that by 2015-2020, the price increase attributed to California-only blends of diesel could result in 617,000 job losses in the containerized import sector, $68.5 billion in lost state domestic product, $21.7 billion in lost income and $5.3 billion in lost state and local taxes.

That's a lot of big numbers, and it does depend on a lot of factors, but ultimately it affects virtually everyone. Job losses are poor for the economy, and increases in the price of haulage are generally passed on to the consumer, in the form of more expensive products and services.

The CTA worries that those who aren't pushed out of business will simply move out of state, which would be equally damaging on California's economy.

Read into the study what you will--it is of course a study paid for by the CTA, for the benefit of the CTA's members--but there's certainly precedent. California already has its own blends of gasoline, for example.

The situation is perfect evidence of the difficulty policy-makers face in juggling economic and ecological needs--and illustrates that there is no silver bullet when it comes to greener transport.


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Comments (4)
  1. Guess I have to go to google to find the other side of the story.

  2. That sounds like a cry of desperation and fear. The same cry of desperation you hear coming from coal and natural gas. "You can't kill me, you will loose jobs!"

  3. Truckers differ from the public as the high capital cost of trucks means they keep the truck much longer than a car. They can't replace their truck every 3-4 years. Truckers also value top reliability as much as mpg which can often increase truck weight as truck components are designed to be heavy duty like a good bridge.
    A similar cash for clunker (trucks) would do alot to help get rid of many a dirty truck and allow truckers to invest in a replacement that does have a much better mpg than their old one. High diesel prices are already forcing truck makers to look at MPG as a top priority for future truck releases.

  4. $6.69/gallon in 2020 doesn't sound bad considering diesel in CA is $4.25/gallon. 57% price increase in 8 years, take in to account inflation and there really is no price increase. I hate lazy whiners like the CTA. This is the same group that got tanker truck drivers exempt from the cell phone ban law in CA. We have had two of these tankers take out freeways in CA because they were busy chatting on their phones while hauling full loads of gasoline. Special Interest groups are worse then terrorists.

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