New California idling limits begin Jan. 1
Haulers of temperature-sensitive cargo await December 2008 reefer regulation

By Charlie Morasch
staff writer


Beginning Jan. 1, 2008, truckers heading to California will have two new emissions regulations to contend with, and there’s another one on the way in December 2008.

As of New Year’s Day, truckers won’t be allowed to idle for more than five minutes when parked, and 2008 model year engines will be required to have an automatic shutoff function programmed into their ECMs unless the engine has been certified to emit no more than 30 grams of nitrogen oxides per hour of running time. The shutoff function will warn a driver within 30 seconds of shutting off. It can be reset in those 30 seconds by the driver shifting gears.

As of early November, a CARB spokesman confirmed for Land Line that no engines had been certified as California clean idle, though “multiple manufacturers are attempting to certify to this standard.”   

Cummins officials have announced that their engine will meet the standard, but as of press time in mid-November, it was not yet certified.

APUs, reefers in the mix

Also in California, drivers with diesel-powered APUs attached to trucks that have 2007 and newer model year engines must have a diesel particulate filter installed on the APU.

California’s most sweeping new regulation addresses reefers and the drivers who haul produce and other temperature-sensitive cargo in and out of the Golden State.

Although tractor engines have made rapid improvements in decreasing emissions, particularly of diesel particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen, reefer units have improved less in recent years, said Rod Hill, an engineer with the California Air Resources Board.

Beginning in December 2008, reefers operating in  California that have engines from 2001 or before will have to be retrofitted to reduce emissions by 50 percent. The regulation continually moves up required retrofits on a seven-year, phase-in schedule, with 2002 model year reefer units needing retrofits by December 2009, and 2003 units by 2010. A new ultra-low emissions standard will begin for engines by 2010.

Truckers are becoming aware of CARB’s new reefer rules, but CARB plans to continue getting the word out, said Hill, who heads up the agency’s efforts on reducing reefer emissions.

“We’ve been getting a lot of calls here in the last few weeks,” Hill told Land Line in early November. “The word is starting to get out but we still have a ways to go. To tell you the truth … there’s still a lot of folks out there that need to get the information.”

California-based reefer haulers have two more hurdles to clear: an application for an identification number from CARB and a requirement to submit an operator report by Jan. 31, 2009.

CARB estimates that 40,000 reefers are running in California, with about 34,000 of those being trailer reefers and 6,000 being refrigerated box trucks.

Most truckers have told Hill that retrofitting their reefer units isn’t worth the cost, Hill said.

“A number of them are choosing to replace the engine,” Hill said. “I think as more of these retrofit devices are verified (by CARB) and there are more choices out there and more competition, I think the costs are going to come down somewhat and the retrofit option will become more attractive.”

More information on the reefer law is available at

Watch ’em roll away again

Discussions concerning three proposed port clean truck plans for California, and specifically the massive twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, continued into early November.


CARB estimates that 40,000 reefers are running in California, with about 34,000 of those being trailer reefers and 6,000 being refrigerated box trucks.


The Port of Los Angeles Commission adopted a plan that will begin in October 2008 by immediately banning trucks with engines manufactured before 1989. Trucks with model year engines from 1989 through 2003 will have to be retrofitted with devices that catch 85 percent of diesel particulate matter and 25 percent of nitrogen oxides. All trucks will have to meet 2007 emissions standards by 2012.

Commissioners from the Port of Long Beach adopted an almost identical regulation.

Officials at the Port of Los Angeles have hinted at wanting to adopt additional restrictions to allow only licensed concessionaires onto the ports. Previous drafts of a concessionaire plan included ranking applicants by number of employees and financial assets, among other criteria.

A number of freight and retail associations have questioned whether the ports can legally restrict access to interstate commerce, although the Teamsters Union has begun pressuring ports throughout the West Coast and across the country to adopt such plans.

The California Air Resources Board is scheduled to consider its own port truck regulation in early December. LL