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11/14/2013
CARB allows more compliance time for some
By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer

Truck owners who run in California will be given additional time to comply with the state’s most expensive trucking regulation to date – if they begin ordering new equipment.

The California Air Resources Board announced Wednesday it would give truck owners more time to comply with the Truck and Bus Regulation. Trucking companies that by Jan. 1, 2014 “enter into an agreement with an authorized retrofit installer for a PM filter retrofit,” or sign a purchase contract and order a replacement truck with a diesel particulate filter won’t be subject to CARB enforcement under the rule until July 2014.

Fleets that “were approved or denied a loan or other financing” for a retrofit DPF or replacement truck equipped with a diesel particulate filter also won’t be subject to enforcement, CARB says.

By Jan. 1, 2014, most trucks operating in the state will be required to have a diesel particulate filter. CARB has heard complaints from the transportation industry that many trucks won’t be able to meet the deadline. Many have questioned CARB’s statistics on just how many trucks still need to be upgraded.

“The overall goal of these actions is to:
Provide additional time for owners to complete their good faith compliance efforts
Provide additional flexibility for many lower use vehicles and vehicles that operate solely in certain areas of the state”

While CARB staff has proposed a low-use exemption for trucks that operate less than 5,000 miles, Wednesday’s advisory hinted that the exemption has a caveat for long-haulers who occasionally work in the Golden State.

The 5,000-mile limit applies to total mileage, not simply miles driven in California.

“Vehicles that operate more than 5,000 miles per year, but will operate less than 1,000 miles per year within California’s borders, also qualify for the low-use exemption,” a CARB factsheet states. CARB plans to consider adopting the 5,000 mile exemption at its April 2014 board meeting.

CARB’s announcement came just three weeks after CARB listened to 43 members of the public speak about the Truck and Bus Rule, including blistering comments from California residents with ties to small trucking companies.

Several at the meeting said the rule was toughest on small trucking businesses that don’t normally replace equipment as fast as large trucking companies.

Others at the October 24-25 CARB Board meeting complained that giving small trucking companies more compliance time created an uneven playing field. The California Trucking Association’s Chris Shimoda said a significant number of trucking fleets have spent millions to comply with CARB’s emissions regulations.

Unless CARB brings more enforcement, more rules won’t be effective, he said.

“The industry was supposed to pay for all this new equipment by raising the rates,” Shimoda said. “This is never going to happen as long as carriers who are compliant or plan to comply have to compete with those who have no intention of ever complying on an unlevel playing field.”

Blaine Stumph said his trucking company has invested to meet CARB’s enforcement deadlines, adding that purchasing new equipment and trucks adds taxes, registration fees and other costs.

“We embrace technology – I’m not afraid of it,” Stumph told CARB. “What I’m afraid of is competitors that don’t upgrade, retrofit or replace. Those guys don’t charge the rates required to operate this new technology like we do. We’re running $150,000 pieces of equipment competing with guys running $15,000 equipment.

“The Truck and Bus Rule has really upset the market. Eventually it will level out. But where will the honest guys like me who have spent the money to be compliant be when the old trucks are finally gone?”

At the Oct. 24 meeting, CARB Board Member Jon Balmes said he voted for the Truck and Bus Rule in 2008, but during the October meeting said the rule may need to be modified to help small-business trucking companies  Echoing a public comment by one truck owner, Balmes said “being out of work is not good for your health.”

“I think that what I’m hearing is that small truck owner-operators and small fleets are being impacted to the point where they’re maybe having to go out of business,” Balmes said. “I don’t think that’s what we really need because we have to balance, again, the positive impacts of improved air quality and less climate change with the negative consequences of people losing their livelihood.”

For more information about the rule, visit CARB’s website, or call 866-6DIESEL (866-634-3735) or email 8666diesel@arb.ca.gov.

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