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Transportation News Bulletins - Logistics

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Obama Plans $50 Billion for Transport
Tuesday, 08 December 2009 00:00
President to develop details of jobs program with Congress.

President Obama’s multi-layered jobs plan includes spending around $50 billion in additional funds on transportation infrastructure programs, with the goal of obligating that money to specific projects within the next year.

The President in his speech did not list the dollar amounts or give many program details of his jobcreation proposals. However, a senior administration official told reporters that the White House “is considering a package in the range of $50 billion above and beyond the current levels of infrastructure spending, but that’s something we’ll be working with Congress on.”

Officials also said they are eyeing savings from the financial rescue program, which cost less than anticipated, to fund the infrastructure investments. And the different parts of the jobs program would move on separate tracks, rather than go to Congress as a unified package.

Earlier this year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $48 billion for the Department of Transportation to spend. Most of it goes into highway and bridge projects, plus airport repairs and yet-tobe- awarded funds for high-speed passenger rail and grants for projects of special importance. DOT has so far paid out less than $7 billion but has obligated over $31 billion.

Obama said that among his new proposals “we’re proposing a boost in investment in the nation’s infrastructure beyond what was included in the Recovery Act, to continue modernizing our transportation and communications networks. These are needed public works that engage private sector companies, spurring hiring across the country.”

Aides said the project spending would again include highways, transit, rail, aviation and water transport systems. One said it would also set aside “a significant amount” for “merit-based” construction such as intermodal projects that draw in investments from other parties as well.

And while the Recovery Act in February did not target money specifically to go to seaport construction projects other than for security measures, Obama said in the days leading up to his announcement that he was looking at port infrastructure. And administration officials have told reporters that seaports would be included in the package that is being developed.

Journal of Commerce Online, 12/8/2009

 
EPA: greenhouse gases harm humans; what it could mean for trucking
Tuesday, 08 December 2009 00:00

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration took a major step Monday toward imposing the first federal limits on climate-changing pollution from vehicles, power plants and factories, declaring there was compelling scientific evidence that global warming from manmade greenhouse gases endangers Americans' health.

It’s unclear how EPA’s finding will affect the trucking industry, noted the American Trucking Associations. It will pave the way for several pending EPA rules including first-ever federal tailpipe standards for lightduty vehicles for greenhouse gases (jointly proposed by EPA and DOT on Sept. 15), and also will require the largest industrial sources to install technology to curb their emissions.

According to an opinion piece by Fox News, “Not only would motor vehicles be regulated, so would lightduty trucks, heavy-duty trucks, buses, motorcycles, planes, trains, ships, boats, tractors, mining equipment, RVs, lawn mowers, fork lifts, and just about everything that has a motor. Because there is no control technology for greenhouse gases, the EPA would require complete redesigns and operational changes.”

EPA is expected to finalize both rules by March of 2010.

Persons wanting to comment on the EPA proposals may click here.

The announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency was clearly timed to build momentum toward an agreement at the international conference on climate change that opened Monday in Copenhagen, Denmark. It signaled the administration was prepared to push ahead for significant controls in the U.S. if Congress doesn't act first on its own.

The price could be steep for both industry and consumers. The EPA finding clears the way for rules that eventually could force the sale of more fuel-efficient vehicles and require plants to install costly new equipment—at a cost of billions or even many tens of billions of dollars—or shift to other forms of energy.

No analysis has been conducted by the EPA on costs of such broad regulations, although the agency put the price tag of its proposed climate-related car rules at $60 billion, with an estimated benefit of $250 billion.

Energy prices for many Americans probably would rise, too—though Monday's finding will have no immediate impact since regulations have yet to be written. Supporters of separate legislation in Congress argue they could craft measures that would mitigate some of those costs.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry filed a 38-page rebuttal of the EPA's proposal and said the ruling continues a pattern of "aggressive federal encroachment into every farm, business, church and household in America." The EPA and other researchers, however, have said greenhouse gas rules would exempt small businesses.

The chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a Perry appointee, said the finding sets the stage for "extreme economic hardships" throughout Texas.

Environmentalists hailed the EPA announcement as a clear indication the United States will take steps to attack climate change even if Congress fails to act. And they welcomed the timing of the declaration, saying it will help the Obama administration convince delegates at the international climate talks that the U.S. is serious about addressing the problem. Obama will address the conference next week.

But business groups said regulating carbon emissions through the EPA under existing clean air law would put new economic burdens on manufacturers, cost jobs and drive up energy prices.

"It will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project," declared Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which in recent months has been particularly critical of the EPA's attempt to address climate change.

The EPA signaled last April that it was inclined to view heat-trapping pollution as a threat to public health and welfare and began to take public comments for formal rulemaking. That marked a reversal from the Bush administration, which had refused to issue the finding, despite a conclusion by EPA scientists that it was warranted.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said Monday, "There are no more excuses for delaying," adding that the so-called endangerment analysis from global warming had been under consideration at the agency for three years. After the official finding, she said the agency is now "obligated to make reasonable efforts to reduce greenhouse pollutants under the Clean Air Act."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama "still believes the best way to move forward is through the legislative process"—something Obama has expressed on a number of occasions as he has pressed Congress to shift the nation's energy priorities away from fossil fuels and to reduce climate-changing pollution.

The EPA said scientific evidence clearly shows that greenhouse gases "threaten the public health and welfare of the American people" and that the pollutants—mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels— should be reduced, if not by Congress then by the agency responsible for enforcing air pollution.

"These long-overdue findings cement 2009's place in history as the year when the United States government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution," said Jackson.

She rejected claims by climate skeptics that the science of global warming remains in doubt, an argument given additional attention in recent weeks with the disclosure through intercepted e-mails that a British scientist had privately discussed ways to shield certain climate data from public scrutiny.

"The vast body of evidence not only remains unassailable, it has grown even stronger," said Jackson.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a lead author of a climate bill before the Senate, said of the finding:

"This is a clear message to Copenhagen of the Obama administration's commitments to address global climate change. ... The message to Congress is crystal clear: Get moving."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., also a co-author, said, "The Senate has a duty to act."

Business groups have strongly argued against tackling global warming through the Clean Air Act, saying it is less flexible and more costly than the cap-and-trade legislation being considered by Congress. Any regulations from the EPA are certain to spawn lawsuits and lengthy legal fights.

"Such regulations would be intrusive, inefficient and excessively costly, chill job growth and delay business expansion," argued Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, which also has been critical of the climate legislation before Congress.

"The Clean Air Act can complement legislation," said Jackson. In fact, if Congress were to cap greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA probably would be given the responsibility of implementing the law.

The EPA's involvement in reducing climate-changing pollution, stems from a 2007 Supreme Court decision that declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants under the Clean Air Act. But the court said the EPA would have to determine if these pollutants pose a danger to public health and welfare before it could regulate them.

TheTrucker.com, 12/8/2009

 
New Stanford study suggests shippers may start spending again
Tuesday, 08 December 2009 00:00

SAN FRANCISCO—Now that the global economy seems to be edging up from the crisis mode, will shippers start spending more on "Software as a Solution" (SaaS) technology?

A new global trade management (GTM) study jointly conducted by TradeBeam and Stanford University suggests that that may indeed be the case.

"This report demonstrates that companies can gain substantially by automating their global supply chains, probably much more than they have estimated to date," said Warren Hausman, Professor of Operations Management in the Department of Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University. "By creating a new process model attuned to global trade, we hope to help companies make improvements that will help them thrive in the global economy not just with short term gains, but over the long term as well."

Experts from TradeBeam—a major player in the SaaS-based GTM solutions industry—teamed with Hau Lee, of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and Warren Hausman, of the Department of Management Science and Engineering on the project.

"How Enterprises and their Trading Partners Gain from Global Trade Automation: A New Process Model for the China-US Trade Lane," provides estimates in key benefit categories, based on input from supply chain practitioners from the U.S. and China.

Based on more than a year of research, the results demonstrate that companies stand to gain dramatically by implementing global trade best practices and accompanying automation, enabling improvement in profitability from 10-40 percent or more, as well as delivering significant improvements in other benefit categories, such as cycle times.

A key result of the study is a new global trade process model which enables enterprises and their trading partners to systematically analyze trade lanes, and find and eliminate inefficiencies. The initial model focuses on the China-U.S. trade lane, but can be applied in other geographic and industry contexts.

In an interview with LM, Alex Thompson, TradeBeam's chief architect and vice president of market strategy, said that U.S. shippers are ready to start investing in technology again.

"Companies have underestimated how much they can gain from going global," he said. "Now that supply chains have been stretched, shippers will focus on saving more on the labor and material side, while growing the top revenue side by entering emerging markets."

Logistics Management, 12/8/2009

 
Research fraud spurs CARB member to call for truck rule suspension
Thursday, 03 December 2009 00:00

It appears Christmas may be coming early for truckers this year.

A brewing scandal at the California Air Resources Board has resulted in one CARB board member calling for the suspension of CARB’s most expensive truck rule to date.

Written under the authority A.B. 32—the 2006 law that addresses global warming, the Truck and Bus rule requires trucking fleets to acquire diesel particulate matter filters and upgrade their truck engines beginning in 2012.Most small trucking businesses—including fleets of one to three trucks—will be exempt until 2014.

Numerous California and national news organizations reported this week that several top CARB officials, including CARB Chairman Mary Nichols, knew a year ago that the team leader and researcher on diesel pollution fatalities was a fraud and hadn’t earned the doctorate degree he claimed on his resume.

The revelation came at least as early as December 2008, the day before CARB considered and approved its controversial Truck and Bus rule. The rule, which CARB research then estimated would cost the transportation industry $6 billion to $10 billion to comply with, requires diesel particulate filters and new engines for commercial trucks and buses on California roads and highways.

According to emails posted at www.killcarb.org, a CARB board member unearthed the scandal that top agency officials had managed to keep quiet for more than a year by asking Nichols and other CARB board members about the research and qualifications of agency employee Hien T. Tran.

In e-mails sent between CARB board members, Nichols and a head of the California EPA, Tran was revealed to not have a degree. The agency and state officials defended him although he was later disciplined internally.

CARB’s Truck and Bus rule was approved partly because of Tran’s research in the report, “Methodology for Estimating Premature Death Associated with Long-Term Exposure to Find Airborne Particulate matter in California.” In the report, Tran falsely claimed that he had a doctorate degree in statistics from The University of California at Davis.

Tran purportedly confessed on Dec. 10, 2008, one day before CARB’s December board meeting began, and two days before the board approved its most expensive rule yet.

“I believe the legitimacy of the (truck and bus rule) vote to be in question,” wrote CARB Board member John Telles, a cardiologist, almost a year later in a Nov. 16 letter to CARB’s chief counsel.

Later, he said a “fundamental violation of procedure,” combined with the agency’s failure to reveal that information to the board before it voted to approve the truck and bus measure “not only casts doubt upon the legitimacy of the Truck (and Bus) rule, but also upon the legitimacy of CARB itself.”

Telles’ words have caused headlines nationally, and appear to be particularly damning to the air quality agency, which prides itself on being more restrictive than any such agency in the world. CARB is scheduled to approve eight different research projects next week that carry a combined $2.4 million price tag.

So far in 2009, CARB has collected $9.7 million in total fines, according to press releases from January to October. The figures were calculated by www.killcarb.org.

OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz, who has attended CARB board meetings, said the recent controversy should make California lawmakers question the power they’ve given the air quality agency.

“What else have they hidden?” Rajkovacz said. “Mary Nichols knew about this when she presided over the public hearings, and she chose not to disclose it. This is a damning indictment of CARB’s process.The board should have delayed the Truck and Bus rulemaking until they evaluated the data by real professionals.”

The December 2008 CARB Board meeting, which lasted nearly 12 hours, included several hours of discussion between agency staffers and board members regarding the effect the Truck and Bus rule would have on small businesses, particularly in trucking.

Eventually, the board approved the rule.

“It turned out the public hearing on the Truck and Bus rule was nothing but a dog and pony show,” Rajkovacz said after finding out about the questionable research.

“You cannot defend data that was assembled by an ethically challenged individual. People have been defending the statistics by saying it was peer reviewed—well, big deal. The individual who compiled the data did not possess the academic credentials claimed. Tran didn’t, and CARB’s top executives defended him.

“Mary Nichols didn’t have the courage to even bring up this information during last year’s hearing.”

CARB spokesman Leo Kay told Land Line Now’s Reed Black Thursday that CARB would probably address the Tran situation and a potential change in the Truck and Bus rule’s implementation at its board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9. T

he down economy has given CARB staff reason to look at whether down vehicle miles traveled and fuel purchases could indicate corresponding decreases in greenhouse gas emissions, Kay said. That could lead to a relaxing of the rule’s emissions standards.

“Trucks are sitting idle, and some off-road equipment is sitting idle as a result of the bad economy,” Kay said. “We have a plan to allow for some of the reduced emissions that we’ve got. We’ll present the board with a few different options: Do we stay the course on current deadlines, do we allow a little more room, or maybe even a Plan C. It’s up to the board next week.”

Kay described the Tran scandal as an “unfortunate set of circumstances,” and said Nichols felt some regret.

“I think in retrospect, she feels she should have told the whole board as soon as we knew,” Kay said. At the time, things were moving quickly. It was just a day or so before the hearing when the news broke.”

One blog post by The San Diego Tribune revealed a photo of the address listed for Thornhill University, the New York school from which Tran claimed he gained his doctoral degree. The building in the picture is a small United Postal Service storefront.

During the December 2008 CARB board meeting’s discussion of the Truck and Bus rule, Telles questioned whether CARB should include an “off-ramp” should the rule prove to be more expensive than small trucking businesses could handle.

“I don’t think the state of California wants to put people out of work,” Telles said then.

Nichols responded quickly.

“We’ve never adopted a rule that didn’t have severe opposition,” she said in December 2008. “We always go by data given to us by sources, and methods of compliance turned out to be somewhat different than they were at the beginning. It’s the difficulty of this work we do in the air regulatory field that we’re always betting. When we get close to the brink, if we’re wrong—we have to change.”

Land Line Magazine, 12/3/2009

 
Trucking Software Pioneers to Merge
Tuesday, 01 December 2009 00:00
TMW acquires competitor ICC, expanding its software portfolio and reach

Two of the biggest names in trucking software were combined today as TMW Systems acquired Innovative Computing for an undisclosed price.

TMW and Innovative are trucking software pioneers. Innovative has a history stretching back to the early days of commercial fleet management systems in the 1960s. TMW, founded in 1983, provides enterprise software to for-hire and private fleets.

The acquisition benefits customers of both TMW and Innovative, the companies say, as both firms‘ software is already integrated at hundreds of motor carriers.

"We will continue to sell, support and develop the ICC product line to protect our customer's technology and platform investments," said David Wangler, president and CEO of Beachwood, Ohio-based TMW.

The acquisition gives TMW an even stronger presence at some of the nation‘s largest truck operators, and adds Innovative‘s development skills to its own. The company in recent years has expanded its software-as-a-service products.

Innovative, with offices in Oklahoma City and Brentwood, Tenn., develops systems for IBM mid-range computers, the IT workhorse for many trucking operations.

The acquisition brings more than 300 customers to TMW, which says it now has more than 1,800 customers worldwide, including shippers, third-party logistics companies, private fleets, freight brokers, and less-than-truckload, truckload and intermodal carriers.

The Journal of Commerce Online, 12/1/2009

 
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