CARB wants to require 2007 engine standards for many trucks by 2012

| 8/1/2008

California’s latest proposed regulation would cost billions in engine retrofits and replacements, but a variety of compliance options appear to show that the state’s environmental board has acknowledged at least some of the difficulties that would pose for the vast majority of small fleet operations that dominate trucking.

The California Air Resources Board presented its one and only broadcast workshop for its proposed in-use, on-road diesel truck and bus regulation on Thursday, July 31. CARB staff will produce a final recommendation in early September before the agency’s board will consider approving the proposed regulation at its Oct. 23-24 meeting in Southern California.

The proposed rule would require trucks to meet 2007 and 2010 emissions standards between 2012 and 2022, though it allows for a series of compliance options. The regulation addresses diesel particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen.

According to CARB’s statistics, about two-thirds of company fleets are 10 trucks or less, and about one-third are one-truck operations.

So, CARB proposed an alternate set of rules for companies with three or fewer trucks to allow them more time to meet emissions standards. CARB officials said they understood that most heavy-duty diesel engines have long lifetimes and that the regulation’s previous draft was difficult especially for smaller trucking businesses that have less truck turnover.

The proposal would mandate that one truck from those small companies must meet 2004 emissions standards by Dec. 31, 2012, and would be exempt from additional particulate matter changes until 2017.

By Dec. 31, 2017, the truck must be replaced by one meeting 2010 engine emissions requirements. A company with three or fewer trucks would then upgrade engines for the rest of its trucks between 2013 and 2022.

CARB estimates the rule will cost trucking businesses between $4.4 and $5.4 billion.

CARB allowed for more phase-ins than previous drafts, said Tony Brasil, a manager for CARB’s in-use regulation section.

“What we’ve tried to do here is to try and give people as many choices that we can, so that ultimately gets us to where we can have the requirements given out and as an individual company they can make that choice,” Brasil said. “The owner-operator and others – it will depend on what you choose to do to comply to get the lowest capital investment.”

Responding to a question from a trucking company representative, Brasil acknowledged that the economic downturn affected the agency’s development of the in-use regulation.

“It’s not a change in philosophy – it’s a change of reality,” Brasil said. “My house was worth a lot more one year ago. We used the best info at the time, and we’ll continue to use the best info.”

School buses would be exempt from NOx regulations, as would any 14,000 pound diesel powered vehicle that is used less than 1,000 miles or 100 hours annually. Vehicles driven “exclusively” in counties that meet federal air quality attainment standards are exempt until 2020.

Attainment area counties include Alpine, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Plumas, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Trinity, Tehama and Yuba.

One trucking company representative who identified himself as Robert said he believed the $4 billion estimate of the cost of meeting the in-use rule to be low.

“I think it’s probably going to be about double that,” he said. “Is the state going to be responsible for what happens to the 80 percent of owner-operators here in the state who you’re going to drive out of business?”

CARB is asking trucking companies to fill out an online survey available by clicking here.

For more information on CARB’s proposed in-use rule, click here.

The in-use, on-road measure is one of several CARB has been working on to reduce statewide emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.

A separate rule also slated for CARB’s Oct. 23-24 meeting will also affect long haul trucking businesses that run in California.

CARB has proposed a “Heavy-Duty Vehicle Green House Gas Regulation” that would require most trucks traveling in the state and all trailers 53 feet long and larger to use tires, fairings, side skirts and other technologies approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Program.

The proposed greenhouse gas reduction measure would exempt local haul businesses that operate within 100 miles of company headquarters or don’t exceed 50,000 miles driven per year, emergency vehicles and drayage tractors that stay within 100 miles of a port or yard.

The greenhouse gas measure would enforce the regulation on drivers, company owners, motor carriers and California-based “businesses that ship or receive freight” in 53-foot or longer box trailers.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer