California law will require all reefers to be 2002 or newer

| 4/30/2007

Long-haulers of produce have more to worry about in California than E. coli and the expiration of cargo – their reefers could be expired as early as next year.

Soon, refrigerated trailers won’t be allowed in the state unless they’re late models or retrofitted to create less emissions.

The California Air Resources Board is trying to notify U.S. truck drivers of a law slated to take effect in December 2008 that won’t allow reefer models from 2001 and older. The rule will continually generate tighter restrictions, including the exclusion of 2002 models by 2009 and newer models in each additional year.

In May 2006, CARB estimated the cost of retrofitting or replacing trailers between $2,000 and $20,000.

Retrofitting of older reefers must reduce emissions by 50 percent for 2001 and older models, and 2002 and newer trailer retrofits must reduce emissions by 85 percent. California-based trucking companies are required to register their reefers and place identification numbers on the trailers.

CARB said out-of-state drivers may register their trailers as well.

Before being implemented, the rule must be granted an exemption by the EPA from the national Clean Air Act.

Exemptions from the national Clean Air Act are standard protocol, said Dimitri Stanich, a spokesman for CARB.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had one that they resisted,” Stanich told Land Line. “The general population should act as though it’s in effect.”

That’s not good news for Leon Wilson, who makes produce trips to California about 15 times a year.

Wilson, an OOIDA life member from Hamilton, MO, said he’ll quit hauling in California if he’s forced to retrofit his 2000 reefer.

Wilson said he’s one of many owner-operators who typically haul only during soft fruit season.

The trailer is worth about $20,000, he said, and replacing it might cost as much as $80,000.

“That will be a monetary issue for me that I can’t surmount,” Wilson told Land Line. “I won’t even go out there – these reefers are so expensive.”

The reefer restriction could have a ripple effect on the trucking economy, said Wilson, who also hauls fruit regularly out of Michigan.

“If a whole bunch of people quit running there and go to Michigan, it will mess with the market there, too,” he said. “Everything’s got a catch-22.”

Wilson pointed to the trend of California’s emissions and environmental initiatives often being emulated by other states.

Vermont and several other states have adopted a 2005 California law that that regulates carbon emissions. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in early April that federal Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy standards don’t trump state laws and said the federal agency must regulate greenhouse gases unless it can find scientific reasoning not to do so.

“Whatever California gets, four or five years later it’s across the country,” Wilson said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer