Diesel Truck rules challenged

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Dec. 6, 2013 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Industry groups are pressuring the state air board to relax its controversial diesel truck rule by delaying for several months a deadline for most trucks to install particulate matter filters.

After months of increasing political pressure from truck owners, legislators, and air regulators in rural areas of California questioning the environmental and cost benefit of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) “Statewide Truck and Bus regulation,” the agency issued a regulatory advisory on November 13th to partially fulfill a Board directive that said that staff should come up with proposals to “provide fleets additional flexibility in complying with the regulation.” However, the CARB Awareness Group warns in its newsletter that “contrary to what some trade associations and publications are communicating, these are only proposals and by no means should be considered final agency action.”

CARB staff has proposed creation of a new flex-option called “Good Faith Effort” and to re-open the opt-in periods for some of the exemptions and extensions permitted under the regulation. Staff has also proposed to expand the “NOx exempt” areas. (NOx is the generic term for a group of highly reactive gases, all of which contain nitrogen and oxygen in varying amounts.) The CARB Awareness Group contends that although these are good starting points for discussions, nothing CARB proposes will grant sufficient relief for the vast majority of truck owners in order to allow more time for the used truck supply to catch up with demand and moderate compliance costs.

They also warn that there are transportation interests in California that do not want to see any flexibility in deadlines for most truck owners for competitive reasons. Those who have benefitted from public grant money to purchase new or newer trucks have been especially vocal insisting on no change in the regulations.

In addition, a group of rural trucking fleets have filed a lawsuit in a Northern California Superior Court challenging the regulation and its January 1, 2014, compliance date. They contend that Board staff have not only violated the Administrative Procedures Act and the California Environmental Quality Act, but have also not reported the significant economic impacts and have withheld information from the public and the Board that the expensive particulate matter filters are mechanically flawed and unreliable.

The Construction Industry Air Quality Coalition urged CARB in a November 20th letter to adjust their rule to provide the construction industry with flexibility. They believe that it is unfair and unnecessary to apply the same schedule to construction-related trucks and their lower mileage level as “over-the-road” truck fleets.

CMTA will continue to stay abreast of this story as it develops

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