"Burn down out cities, but leave our farms alone." That was the message from one angry small business owner, who said that new diesel regulations will ruin the North State agriculture and trucking industries. Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Linda) organized the town hall Thursday night in order to allow business owners the chance to vent their frustrations. They say new diesel emissions regulations will cost jobs, raise prices on consumers, and put many small business owners out of business. Randy McLaughlin, owner of Old Durham Wood, an orchard removal specialist, says he's already let go of two workers and retired two trucks that weren't in compliance with standards that went into effect last week. He says, "Two of my trucks have been taken out of service in order for me to stay in compliance." He adds that when the next round of even more strict standards are rolled out in 2014, more small business owners won't be able to afford to keep up. He says, "When those deadlines pass, those single truck owners will be out of business."
McLaughlin and other North State business owners say they are frustrated that they're having to retrofit or retire equipment that is legal in other states. They argue that trucks from Nevada and other states will be able to use California roads without having the meet the new standards.
Assemblyman Logue said he was inspired by the turnout and the level of passion. Said Logue, "We have people's lives on the line. Because of regulations, we have to fight with everything we have to protect these jobs."
Erik White, the only member of CARD allowed to speak to the media at Thursday's meeting said he planned to convey the issues he heard to the board in Sacramento, but couldn't promise they would ease up on their restrictions. He said, "I think we all heard a very good dose of concern and frustration in the industry, and it's our intention to take that back to them."