By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer
Phone lines at OOIDA’s Business Assistance Department rang often the past two weeks with questions about a proposed California policy that could help many out-of-state trucks hauling in and out of the Golden State.
While OOIDA took nearly 150 phone calls about CARB in early November, phones at California Air Resources Board offices were also getting slammed with calls from truck owners curious about the change.
CARB Spokeswoman Karen Caesar said the agency’s call staff reported a sharp uptick in trucking phone calls after CARB released an advisory last week about the 5,000-mile exemption.
“Our call volume has definitely increased notably since the release of the advisory,” Caesar told Land Line Magazine. “The low-use exemption change to 5,000 miles is far and away the most popular question.”
Truck owners have reason to be curious.
Enforcement of the Truck and Bus Rule will begin in 2014 for many small trucking fleets, who a CARB board member says are adversely affected by the rule four times as much as large fleets. According to a survey by the OOIDA Foundation, 77 percent of OOIDA members who are owner-operators drive trucks that are 2006 or older. Those trucks don’t meet the Truck and Bus Rule. That percentage is consistent with national estimates of registered Class 8 diesel trucks.
Billed as CARB’s most expensive trucking regulation to date, the On-Road Truck and Bus Regulation was projected to cost the trucking industry billions of dollars. The rule requires most trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 14,000 pounds to be upgraded either with diesel particulate filters or by upgrading to cleaner and newer engines between 2012 and 2023.
On October 24, CARB’s board considered a plan that sounded as if it would exempt most long-haulers that don’t often run in the state from its most expensive trucking regulation.
Rather than purchase diesel particulate filters or new engines to comply with the Truck and Bus Rule, also known as the On-Road Rule, CARB staff proposed an exemption for trucks that ran less than 5,000 miles annually.
Interpreted by some trucking industry reports to mean less than 5,000 miles in-state, the rule exemption looked as though it could benefit many long-haul truckers and other businesses that sometimes visit the state.
Last week, CARB issued an advisory that said the 5,000 mile limit was for total miles – not simply miles driven in California. The advisory also stated that out-of-state trucks could meet the exemption if they register with CARB and drive less than 1,000 miles in California annually.
On Monday, many callers still incorrectly believed they could drive 5,000 miles within California annually and comply with the rule.
“Most callers think they have 5,000 miles in California,” Caesar said.
The exemption is planned to be considered at CARB’s April 2014 board meeting. In the meantime, CARB announced last week that it would waive enforcement of the rule for the first six months of 2014 for truck owners who ordered trucks, diesel particulate filters or could prove they were turned down for a loan to purchase equipment to meet the rule.
For more information, go to the Truck and Bus Rule section on the CARB website here. CARB’s diesel hotline is available at 1-866-6DIESEL (866-634-3735) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.