Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 1, 20173min549
Shaun Egan, the president and CEO of Iron Woman Construction and Environmental Services in Denver, has been elected chairman of the politically influential Colorado Motor Carriers Association, the state’s trucking industry advocacy group. The Colorado Motor Carriers Association is one of the key players in Colorado’s transportation debate, as lawmakers continue to try to find […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe

Joey BunchJoey BunchApril 19, 201711min285
The Colorado Motor Carriers Association, the voice of Colorado’s truckers, has something to say about House Bill 1242, the mega transportation bill. And that message is that it still needs a lot of work, even with the end of the legislative session is just three weeks away. After hearing the association’s president, Greg Fulton, articulate the […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe

Greg FultonAugust 22, 20146min284

What if I told you that there was a voluntary federal program that has resulted in a savings of 5 billion gallons of fuel, saved $16.8 billion in fuel costs, and reduced carbon monoxide emissions by over 52 million tons since the program’s inception in 2004. You probably wouldn’t believe it.

While we hear stories in the media about government boondoggles, very rarely do we hear about those public programs that do work and may even exceed expectations.

Let me introduce you to the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership. As noted on EPA’s website, the program “is a market-driven partnership aimed at helping businesses move goods in the cleanest most efficient way possible.” In the case of this program, the old phrase, “I’m with the federal government and I’m here to help you” actually rings true.

SmartWay has realized an astounding level of success without mandates and with limited funding. Why is this program so successful? First, rather than dictating specific processes and equipment, the EPA acts as a partner with the freight sector. They have helped to identify and provide a menu of options for the freight industry toward becoming more fuel-efficient and reducing emissions. These technologies include idle reduction, aerodynamic technologies, low rolling resistance tires, alternative fuel vehicles and others. Overall, these technologies when applied together can increase fuel savings up to 25 percent or more.

Second, SmartWay recognized that the “one size fits all” concept does not work. Instead of mandating strategies that result in companies doing the minimum, SmartWay, through encouragement of the private sector, the marketing of success stories, and proof that “going green” could even help a company’s bottom line, achieved more success than anyone imagined.

Third, the EPA served as a true partner. The agency independently analyzed different technologies that might reduce emissions and greenhouse gases, and improve fuel efficiency. This provided a proof of concept and allowed companies to better know their return on investment. The EPA then proceeded to educate the freight sector on the value of adopting these strategies. They articulated not only the benefits of being a good environmental steward but also helped to make a business case for the technologies. As further encouragement, the EPA even provided a limited amount of seed money to offset some of the costs associated with these technologies. Finally, EPA made a point of annually recognizing industry leaders in SmartWay, shedding light on these companies’ contributions to environmental sustainability.

In Colorado, there are over 70 trucking fleets and shippers that are SmartWay partners. While this includes a number of large companies, SmartWay is not only for big businesses. One of the greatest success stories in the state involves a small Commerce City trucking company with less than 50 trucks, which in the last five years has reduced its fuel consumption by over 10 percent and its greenhouse gas footprint substantially, despite an increase in miles traveled. In Colorado, SmartWay has not only substantially reduced emissions and fuel use but it has led trucking operators and others to think in a new manner. It has made environmental sustainability less of an abstract concept and more so one that can work and benefit everyone.

Could the SmartWay approach be a model for other federal and state programs? The answer is a resounding yes. While there will always be a role for certain mandates and regulations, SmartWay has proven that a different approach, one which makes a business case, appeals to the best instincts of companies, and provides incentives versus penalties, may result in very successful outcomes.

For SmartWay, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, the best years appear to be ahead. With the program’s success, more transporters and shippers in Colorado will join the partnership. As a result, Colorado will benefit as emissions drop, greenhouse gases are reduced, businesses and consumers save through reduced fuel costs, and our country gets closer to energy independence.

Greg Fulton is president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, which includes 650 companies involved in the trucking industry in Colorado. CMCA has been a member of the SmartWay Partnership since 2007 and received a 2014 EPA SmartWay Affiliate Honoree award for promoting the program.

Greg FultonJune 16, 20136min284

Recent statistics reflect that over 90 percent of the trucking companies in Colorado are made up of businesses that have 20 or less employees. Very few of these companies have a staff attorney, regulatory director, or tax specialist. Yet because of the increasing complex web of laws and regulations in our state and country, almost all of these companies at one time during the year will need to retain the services of one of these specialists.

An owner of one small trucking company once mentioned to me that he woke up every morning worried that he was unwittingly violating at least one regulation or law each day. Because of the volume of laws and regulations and changing nature of them, he did not know what law or regulation, where he failed to comply, but it was a constant concern.

The point is that every year, our state legislature and Congress as well as our federal, state, and local governments pass hundreds of new laws, regulations, ordinances, and rules that affect business. In most cases these laws and regulations are approved by well-meaning elected officials or government agencies who are seeking to address particular issues that have been brought to their attention. Unfortunately, no one tallies the overall number, the cost and time to implement, and most importantly the cumulative impact that these measures may have on small businesses which are the prime generator of jobs in our country. While there may be some analysis of the impact of a particular regulation, it generally is done in a void without consideration of other rules.

For a number of years, much has been said by elected officials about streamlining the regulatory process and reducing the burden on business. While there has been some progress, the regulatory onus continues to grow. This is occurring at a time when businesses are not only competing on a state and national basis but on an international basis. To remain competitive companies must become more productive, yet this “regulatory drag” drains critical time and money.

Rather than investing in new capital, creating additional jobs, and expanding facilities, companies find themselves spending more and more money on attorneys, tax consultants, and regulatory experts. Companies have little choice because the cost of failing to comply with even one of these regulations along with defending themselves on a perceived violation, that they may not realize even existed, could mean the loss of their business or serious financial implications. Even in cases where a company successfully defends itself, the legal bills may run into thousands of dollars along with countless hours by staff.

As we consider the future, we must recognize that our world is evolving with new technologies and ideas, our understanding of the environment is growing, and we are moving toward an international marketplace, and some new regulations will be needed.

Rather than continuing down the existing road and add to the problem, we need to rethink how we craft regulations. We need to think in terms of “smart regulation.” This concept would seek to make new regulations simpler, more understandable, less costly to all parties, and easier for businesses to comply. The language in any new regulation and what’s required should be clear and concise and not require a small business to retain an attorney to understand it. Government agencies should do a better job on outreach and training for businesses on any new regulations and laws.

From an efficiency standpoint, regulations should be constructed in a cost-effective manner to enact and enforce as well as ease of compliance for businesses. New regulations should be also designed to build upon existing systems and information rather than forcing companies to re-input data.

At the same time we need to look at new technologies and systems in our mobile and hi-tech world which will allow convenience and ease for users. Finally, agencies should actively seek input from affected businesses before adopting new regulations. Concepts, such as focus groups, electronic town hall meetings, and webinars with affected businesses, should all be considered to gain greater input and understanding of proposed regulations and ensure that they are crafted in a user-friendly manner that may lessen time and cost.

While looking forward, we must also look back. It is important that we look to eliminate any unnecessary or outdated regulations as well as streamline existing ones. This process along with the crafting of smarter regulations could help us create a regulatory environment that is simpler, more understandable, and less onerous while at the same time ensuring the safety and welfare of our state.

Greg Fulton is president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, which includes over 600 companies involved in the trucking industry in Colorado.