OOIDA gives California agency trucker’s perspective on emissions

| 4/13/2007

The California Air Resources Board hosted about 150 representatives of the trucking and agriculture industries and environmental groups for a workshop explaining tougher diesel emissions rules soon to affect owner-operators.

The board’s staff is in the information-gathering phase as it prepares to craft a law to require strict emissions standards for existing over-the-road tractors that travel in California beginning in 2009.

Ron Nunes, air resources engineer with CARB, told Land Line that the CARB staff is preparing to present by spring 2008 what is now a working version of a rule to require modifications to older trucks.

“It’s very much a working version – it could change numerous times,” Nunes said. “What we’re doing is throwing something out there trying to get some reaction.”

The proposed rule would require that over-the-road tractors meet 2004 emissions standards by 2014 and 2007 standards by 2020.

A working version of the yet-to-be-proposed rule would begin requiring older model over-the-road diesel trucks to be retrofitted to meet 2004 emissions standards starting in December 2009. As the draft of the rule currently stands, California would begin rolling out the requirements every December from 2009 to 2013.

If approved in its current form, the rule would require truck models from 1965 to 1994 to be 2004-compliant by December 2009; model years 1995-1997 by 2010; model years 1998-99 by 2011; model years 2000-2002 by 2012; and models from 2003 to 2006 would have to be compliant by 2013.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s regulatory affairs specialist, attended a workshop in Sacramento, CA, on Wednesday, April 11, and said CARB staffers were receptive to truckers’ and small business owners’ perspectives.

“I really truly believe they’re trying to do their homework and understand the market segment affected,” Rajkovacz told Land Line.

Rajkovacz said several representatives from environmental organizations attended the meeting.

The California Farm Bureau argued that the rule should begin requiring more recent models to be compliant first, because of the higher number of recent models as compared to vintage trucks, Rajkovacz said.

The proposed rule as it currently stands would allow out-of-state truckers to be exempt from the rule for the first 1,000 miles they run in California, Rajkovacz said, an exemption he hopes will remain when the final version of the rule is issued.

Agency representatives also were honest about plans to require strict standards for diesel particulate matter, Rajkovacz said. CARB has long held that diesel particulate matter is an air pollutant that “may cause or contribute to an increase in mortality and serious illness, or which may pose a present or potential hazard to human health,” according to a board staff report issued shortly before CARB classified diesel exhaust as a toxic air contaminant.

Rajkovacz said he emphasized that the majority of truck drivers affected by any such new rule would be either owner-operators or work for small businesses.

“They certainly realized small businesses were dominate – they just didn’t realize how dominant,” Rajkovacz said.

CARB staffers told Rajkovacz that they want to hear how the rules would affect small business owners and owner-operators, though “that doesn’t mean they’re going to ignore pushing this thing through.”

Nunes said CARB “absolutely wants to hear” from truckers and suggested they refer comments to Tony Brasil, a CARB manager, by calling him at (916) 323-2927 or by e-mailing him at abrasil@arb.ca.gov. Erik White, CARB branch chief, also may be reached at (916) 322-1017 or at ewhite@arb.ca.gov.

CARB is scheduled to continue gathering information before developing regulatory language. The agency will host informational workshops again in June and July.

“Certainly the devil is in the details,” Rajkovacz said. “A big part of this is going to be keeping our members educated on this so they have the real scoop. There are going to be a tremendous amount of road myths on this.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer