Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022:

OOIDA calls for preliminary injunction of AB 5

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association last week filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California for a preliminary injunction to halt the enforcement of California’s AB 5 law.

The independent contractor classification law was challenged by the California Trucking Association, OOIDA, American Trucking Associations and other trucking groups, but the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of June declined to hear the case, allowing the law to take effect. As reported in October, however, enforcement has been light so far. CTA originally filed the lawsuit against the law in late 2019, arguing the 1994 Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) preempts any state-level laws that would “interfere with prices, routes and services” of motor carriers.

After the Supreme Court’s denial, the case went back to the district court for reconsideration.

OOIDA, who was allowed by the court in September to be an intervenor in the case, said its request for a preliminary injunction is the first opportunity for the group “to ask the court for temporary relief from AB 5 for its owner-operator independent contractor truck driver and motor carrier members.”  

The motion claims that AB 5 is a violation of the Commerce Clause in the Constitution, adding that AB 5 ”will cause irreparable harm to motor carriers and drivers that outweighs the state’s interest in the application of AB 5.” 

The injunction is sought for motor carriers who operate in interstate commerce, or, alternatively, carriers whose drivers are not based in California and spend less than 50% of their working time in the state.

“Absent an injunction, AB 5 will impact interstate trucking operations nationwide, causing carriers throughout the U.S. to reevaluate their ability to serve the country’s most important shipping market,” OOIDA said in a memo attached to the injunction request. “Thousands of trucking companies will be forced to decide between changing their business model or ceasing work in California altogether. The harm resulting from these decisions will be irreparable for many, and will have a negative impact on supply chains.”

California must file a response to OOIDA’s request by March, and a motion hearing is set for May.

Air Products, energy firm AES investing $4B in Texas hydrogen production plant

Industrial gas and chemical company Air Products and the AES Corporation recently announced plans to invest approximately $4 billion to build, own and operate a green hydrogen production facility in Wilbarger County, Texas.

The mega-scale renewable power to hydrogen project includes approximately 1.4 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar power generation, along with electrolyzer capacity capable of producing more than 200 metric tons per day (MT/D) of green hydrogen, making it the largest green hydrogen facility in the United States. The facility, which is targeted to begin commercial operations in 2027, will serve growing demand for zero-carbon intensity fuels for the mobility market, as well as other industrial markets.

It will yield a clean source of energy on a massive scale, and, if all the green hydrogen were used in the heavy-duty truck market, it would eliminate more than 1.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually when compared to diesel use in heavy-duty trucks, the companies said. Over the project lifetime, it is expected to avoid more than 50 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of avoiding emissions from nearly five billion gallons of diesel fuel. 

Air Products and AES will jointly and equally own the renewable energy and electrolyzer assets, with Air Products serving as the exclusive off-taker and marketer of the green hydrogen under a 30-year contract.  

“The new facility in Texas will be, by far, the largest mega-scale clean hydrogen production facility in the U.S. to use wind and sun as energy sources,” said Seifi Ghasemi, Air Products’ Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have been working on the development of this project with AES for many years, and it will be competitive on a world-scale while bringing significant tax, job and energy security benefits to Texas.”

3PL Fox Logistics names new president

Asset-based third-party logistics provider Fox Logistics has announced the appointment of Kyle Mlakar as the company’s new president. The promotion comes during rapid growth, expansion and opportunity for the company.

In his new role, Mlakar will serve as the conduit between the CEO and the organization, working to ensure the company is aligned to meet milestones and growth goals. He will focus on keeping the team at the company’s center while remaining diligent in delivering top-notch service, dependability and value to customers and carrier partners. He will also work alongside the CEO seeking out new opportunities to build and enhance the brand.

“I am humbled by the trust and confidence that Fox Logistics has bestowed on me to advance our collective mission and vision to serve our customers while providing a smooth shipping experience and unbeatable costs,” Mlakar said. “I look forward to continuing to build the best fully-remote 3PL firm in the industry.”

Mlakar will focus on enhancing employee satisfaction and company culture by implementing the Fox Core Values Ambassadorship Program, which will acknowledge team members who exemplify the company’s core values and empower team members to collectively live the Fox Logistics values daily to power the company. Additionally, Mlakar will implement a new employee annual review program to elevate communication between teams, improve the overall quality of work, increase productivity, and promote employee development.