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California governor seeks explanation for high gas prices

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s governor wants to know why gas prices are higher than in the rest of the country, blaming potential “inappropriate industry practices” rather than the state’s higher taxes and tougher environmental regulations.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom asked the California Energy Commission for an analysis of the state’s gas prices by May 15. California drivers were paying an average of $4.03 per gallon Tuesday, or $1.18 more than the national average, according to AAA.

The same differential can be seen with diesel prices. On Monday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly roundup of fuel prices showed the price of diesel in California to be about 86 cents more expensive than the national average.

Higher taxes, along with a combination of tougher gas standards and environmental regulations, normally account for about 70 cents of that difference, said Gordon Schremp, a senior fuels specialist with the California Energy Commission. But the rest is a mystery.

In 2017, the state’s Petroleum Market Advisory Committee found that California has had “a continuous and significant unexplained differential compared to the rest of the country” since February 2015. That difference has cost Californians more than $17 billion, said Severin Borenstein, faculty director at the Energy Institute at the University of California, Berkeley’s business school.

In a letter to energy commission chairman David Hochschild, Newsom defended the state’s environmental standards, accusing critics of using the high prices to “undermine our clean air and safety standards.”

“Independent analysis suggests that an unaccounted-for price differential exists in California’s gas prices and that this price differential may stem in part from inappropriate industry practices,” Newsom wrote.

The commission agreed to do the price analysis but declined further comment.

Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd noted that California’s gas prices have been scrutinized in dozens of government inquiries, “all of which concluded the dynamics of supply and demand are responsible for movements in the price of gasoline and diesel fuel.”

Spiking gas prices have caused headaches for California policymakers since the Legislature approved a 12-cent gas tax increase in 2016.

Last year, voters recalled a Democratic state senator who voted for the increase and replaced him with a Republican. But a statewide ballot initiative to repeal the higher tax failed with more than 56 percent of the vote.

As gas and diesel prices kept climbing, 19 state lawmakers in January asked Attorney General Xavier Becerra to investigate the “unexplained surcharge.”

“This mystery surcharge happens between the refinery and retail purchase by the consumer,” Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine said. “This is a punitive, abusive practice that Californians are paying.”

But it’s unclear if Becerra’s office took any action. Representatives from his office on Tuesday would not confirm or deny an investigation.

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  1. Albert John

    April 29, 2019 at 10:05 am

    Perhaps it has something to do with the formula that the refineries have to adhere to to make compliant fuels for California air resource board. And combine your state’s exclusive fuel and sales taxes and they’re you have it

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Bendix offers tips on preventing OOS order during Roadcheck

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During Roadcheck 2018 brake systems, tires and wheels, and brake adjustment represented well over half – 63.8 percent – of the violations that led to vehicles being placed out of service. (Courtesy: BENDIX)

ELYRIA, Ohio — Need evidence of how important foundational maintenance is to keeping vehicles on the road and operating safely?

Try this: During last year’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck, brake systems, tires and wheels, and brake adjustment represented well over half – 63.8 percent – of the violations that led to vehicles being placed out of service.

With this year’s International Roadcheck around the corner on June 4-6, Bendix (Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake) reminds fleets and owner-operators that taking care of the basics is a must.

“The 2018 Roadcheck followed a common pattern of brake, tire and wheel-end issues accounting for the majority of the out-of-service violations,” said Lance Hansen, Bendix North America regional vice president – fleet/trailer sales and service engineering. “This year’s program includes a special emphasis on steering and suspension systems – but that doesn’t mean there will be less scrutiny of brake and wheel-end concerns. Simple, routine maintenance is designed to catch these issues, from improperly inflated tires to out-of-adjustment brakes. Roadcheck also highlights something else of vital importance – the need for technicians to have the latest training.”

Since its inception in 1988, International Roadcheck – the largest targeted commercial motor vehicle program in the world – has conducted more than 1.6 million total roadside inspections in the United States, Canada and Mexico. On average, the 72-hour period will see roughly 17 trucks and buses inspected every minute, with most of them undergoing the North American Standard Level 1 Inspection, a 37-step procedure that reviews both driver operating requirements and a vehicle’s mechanical fitness.

With braking systems, wheel-ends and tires in the spotlight, offers key points on inspecting and maintaining these crucial components.

Brake Check

Brake systems and brake adjustment reflect a range of issues that are easily averted through regular pre-trip inspections and preventive maintenance. Before hitting the road, drivers should always conduct standard walk-arounds with an eye out for visible brake system problems such as loose hoses or damaged brake components – air chambers or pushrods, for example.

In the shop, air brake system inspections should include the following – all of which relate directly to items inspected during Roadcheck:

  • Conducting a 90- to 100-psi brake application and listening for leaks
  • Measuring chamber stroke at each wheel-end to ensure proper brake adjustment
  • Examining friction for good condition and minimum thickness
  • Measuring/inspecting each rotor and drum for wear and heat cracking and/or leopard spotting

Also essential is checking the condition of friction for compliance, whether during maintenance or pre-trip. This means inspecting for issues including lining cracks, missing portions of the lining, oil or grease contamination of the lining, and compliant friction lining thickness.

“Should you need to replace air disc brake pads or drum brake shoes, select components that will ensure the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirements are met, so that your vehicle remains compliant with the standards required of reduced stopping distance (RSD) braking systems,“ said Keith McComsey, director of marketing and customer solutions at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake (BSFB). “For example, not all friction that is marketed as acceptable under today’s RSD regulations will actually perform to that standard, so Bendix recommends replacing like-for-like OEM friction. This is the best way to maintain your vehicle’s braking performance in stopping distance and wear when replacing linings on vehicles equipped with RSD brakes.”

In addition, Bendix recommends remanufactured drum brake shoes that have been coined back to their OEM-engineered shape, as opposed to those that have simply been relined with new friction. Relining a shoe that’s been exposed to the extreme force and temperature changes of normal use without having been coined can lead to reduced stopping power and premature wear.

“Getting the most out of each part is key to achieving the best and safest performance from a braking system. Don’t let inferior friction or a twisted shoe undercut the stopping power of a high-performance brake,” McComsey said. “And you can draw a direct line between a braking system and connected safety systems: A full-stability or collision mitigation system will be negatively affected if brakes aren’t performing at their peak.”

Fleets spec’ing drum brakes and incurring repeated violations because of out-of-adjustment brakes might consider air disc brakes instead, McComsey noted, citing the Bendix ADB22X air disc brake as an example. “The ADB22X includes an internal self-adjustment mechanism that can help lower the risk of brakes being found out of adjustment during inspection, which can affect Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scoring.”

Tire Time

Roadcheck’s focus on tires serves as a reminder of the importance of proper tire pressure: Industry research shows about 90 percent of tire failures can be attributed to underinflation, and nearly half of all emergency service road calls are tire-related.

“Underinflated tires also experience greater stress and generate a higher internal running temperature, which compounds the risk of a tire blowout,” said Jon Intagliata, Bendix product manager for Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS). “In fact, the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council estimates that 20 percent underinflation can shorten a tire life by 30 percent.”

Use of a system such as the SmarTire Tire Pressure Monitoring System by Bendix CVS – or the SmarTire Trailer-Link TPMS by Bendix CVS for trailers – can help reduce that risk by providing real-time pressure alerts to the driver. Bendix SmarTire systems use a wheel-mounted sensor that continuously monitors temperature as well, allowing alerts that compensate for changing operating conditions, and can point to other potential wheel-end issues that lead to high tire temperatures, such as a dragging brake.

Tires also impact the performance of advanced safety components and technologies, such as RSD-compliant brakes, air disc brakes, full stability, and advanced driver assistance systems such as Bendix Wingman Fusion.

Keeping Current

Staying informed on regulations, as well as remaining knowledgeable about today’s ever-advancing commercial vehicle safety components and technologies, is an important part of keeping vehicles on the road and operating safely. Fleets aiming to equip their technicians with the most current and in-depth training and information can turn to a variety of options.

The in-person Bendix Brake Training School – an annual series of multiday courses offered across North America – is among the industry’s longest-running educational programs. At the Bendix On-Line Brake School (brake-school.com), participants can access more than 70 courses for free, including Bendix’s comprehensive and interactive Air Brake Training course. The company also offers a host of 24/7/365 post-sales support options, including webinars, podcasts, blogs, video tech talks, and much more.

At the heart of Bendix’s training education programs are its field-tested sales and service professionals, along with its veteran field technical support team and the Bendix Tech Team at 1-800-AIR-BRAKE – an expert technical support group providing service advice, brake system troubleshooting, and product training. Bendix also provides technical materials – including archives of the Bendix Tech Tips series – through the Bendix Knowledge Dock multimedia center at knowledge-dock.com.

“Roadcheck demonstrates how being prepared and running safe, well-maintained trucks requires year-round attention,” Hansen said. “Bendix is there to support the industry with maintenance know-how and resources. It’s another way we are working together to shape tomorrow’s transportation.”

 

 

 

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TuSimple’s self-driving trucks go postal, on 2-week trial with USPS

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The United States Postal Service is using Peterbilts fitted with self-driving technology by TuSimple to make five round-trip mail runs between Phoenix and Dallas over the next two weeks. (Courtesy: TuSIMPLE)

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Most people think that is the official motto of the U.S. Postal Service. It isn’t. It was engraved over the entrance of a New York City Post Office branch in 1914, and it just sort of caught on everywhere.

Actually, the phrase was written by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, describing the couriers who served the Persian army in a sixth-century war with the Greeks. So with no ancient Greek copyright laws to worry about, after 1,500 years the motto may soon need a reboot: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor bathroom breaks nor meals nor sleep nor Hours of Service …”

On Tuesday, May 22, USPS began a test run using self-driving trucks to transport mail between distribution hubs in Phoenix and Dallas. It is the first of five round-trip runs over a two-week period in a partnership between USPS and autonomous vehicle startup TuSimple.

Founded in 2015 and based in San Diego, TuSimple has been on the leading edge of development of SAE Class 4 commercial truck technology. Having raised $178 million in funding since its inception, in 2018, the company, expanded its Tuscon, Arizona, testing facilities from 6,800 to 50,000 square feet and began and began making commercial deliveries in August for about a dozen customers along the I-10 corridor within the state of Arizona. The company currently has 12 contracted customers and is making three to five delivery trips per day.

After its last round of funding in February, TuSimple announced plans to have 50 vehicles on the road in Arizona in June. The pilot program with the Post Office will mark the company’s first foray into interstate delivery, as well as its first venture into Texas.

The mail deliveries will be done in Class 8 Peterbilts fitted with TuSimple technology, including its eight-camera array, which uses lidar and radar to “see” 1,000 meters in all directions. The route will run a shade over 1,000 miles each way over I-10, I-20 and I-30.

TuSimple will have a safety driver behind the wheel, as well as an engineer in the passenger seat monitoring the autonomous systems.

“It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck,” said Dr. Xiaodi Hou, TuSimple’s founder, president and chief technology officer. “Performing for the USPS on this pilot in this particular commercial corridor gives us specific use cases to help us validate our system and expedite the technological development and commercialization progress.”

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NATSO advocates take truckstop, travel plaza message to Capitol Hill

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Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., center left, with NATSO Board Member Robin Puthusseril, vice president and owner of Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza, left, David Fialkov, NATSO vice president, government affairs, and Tom Kirby, right, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores' manager of government Affairs. (Courtesy: NATSO)/CHARLIE ARCHAMBAULT)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — NATSO, the national association representing the truckstop and travel plaza industry, this week brought more than 65 truckstop and travel plaza owners and operators from across the country to Capitol Hill as part of its annual advocacy event.

Participants traveling to Washington represented locations that span 49 states and nearly every community in America.

Collectively, they held more than 125 meetings with members of Congress and their staff to advocate for the policy needs of the truckstop and travel plaza industry.

“Truckstops and travel centers are the bedrock of many communities across the United States,” said NATSO Chairman Bob Wollenman, managing partner of Deluxe Truck Stop in St. Joseph, Missouri. “It’s important that our elected officials understand the vital role that our industry plays as an employer and a taxpayer in communities throughout the country.”

This year, NATSO members are urged Congress to seek long-term, sustainable solutions to infrastructure funding and reject funding proposals that would harm off-highway businesses, communities and the traveling public.

Rex Davis, left, president of Melvin L. Davis Oil, speaks with Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va. (Courtesy: NATSO/CHARLIE ARCHAMBAULT)

Specifically, NATSO supports increasing the motor fuels taxes, which haven’t been increased in more than 25 years, as a means of increasing critical infrastructure revenues.

NATSO opposes short-sighted proposals such as tolling existing interstates and commercializing rest areas.

“If Congress fails to act in the coming months, yet another year — possibly longer — will pass without our nation’s lawmakers addressing our real and present infrastructure funding problems,” said Ernie Brame, chairman of NATSO’s Government Affairs Committee and General Manager of Kenly 95 Truckstop in Kenly, N.C. “Advancing infrastructure policy in 2019 is imperative.”

Beyond sustainable, long-term infrastructure funding, advocates are asking elected officials to extend the biodiesel tax credit, which expired at the end of 2016.

The $1 per gallon biodiesel blenders’ tax credit has helped fuel retailers sell biodiesel at a price that is cost-competitive with diesel since 2005, thereby incentivizing consumer consumption.

Furthermore, NATSO said biodiesel helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Every gallon of biodiesel that displaces a gallon of petroleum-based diesel represents at least a 50 percent reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to the Capitol Hill visits, participants were joined by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who delivered a breakfast address to the assembled group.

Founded in 1960, NATSO represents the industry on legislative and regulatory matters, serves as the official source of information on the diverse travel plaza and truckstop industry, provides education to its members, conducts an annual convention and trade show and supports efforts to generally improve the business climate in which its members operate.

 

 

 

 

 

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