Nichols: After 'we listened,' CARB unveils Truck and Bus tweaks

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 3/7/2014

Five months after taking heat from much of the industry and being sued by OOIDA and others, the California Air Resources Board unveiled multiple changes to enforcement and deadlines tied to its Truck and Bus Rule Thursday.

“The trucking community spoke and we listened,” CARB Chairman Mary Nichols said according to a CARB news release. “The good news is that we will not have to sacrifice the state’s air quality goals to assist fleet owners. These amendments, which include more flexible deadlines and increased opportunities to access incentive funding, will further our emissions reduction goals by better ensuring that fleets can meet the requirements of the regulation.”

CARB’s 12 board members are slated to hear amendment proposals for the state’s most expensive regulation in history – the Truck and Bus Rule – at its April 24 board meeting.

California’s On-Road Truck and Bus Regulation was predicted to cost the trucking industry billions of dollars in truck replacement or retrofit work. 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.

The proposed changes to the rule are aimed at adding flexibility for small fleets, lower mileage fleets and fleets in areas that have improved certain air quality metrics. The changes include:

  • A longer phase-in period for diesel particulate matter requirements for trucks that operate “exclusively in certain rural areas with cleaner air”;
  • Additional time and a lower cost route for all small fleet owners to meet their particulate matter compliance requirements by upgrading one truck this year, two by 2016 and three by 2018.
  • A new compliance route for fleet owners who don’t currently qualify for a loan to make emissions upgrades;
  • Adjusted schedules for low-use vehicles and certain work trucks;
  • The recognition of fleet owners who already upgraded their trucks to comply by providing “additional ‘useable life’ for retrofit trucks and reducing near-term compliance requirements.”

For more information on the proposed changes, click here.

CARB’s proposed changes to the rule don’t appear likely to expand beyond its previous allowances for low-use trucks from outside the Golden State. The staff proposal defines low-use trucks as “operated fewer than 1,000 miles within the borders of California in the compliance year.” Trucks that operate fewer than 5,000 miles annually “regardless of where it is operated,” also qualify as low-use until 2020.

Trucks that already meet the rule’s 2014 requirements don’t have to be upgraded to meet 2010 model year emissions standards until 2023 “as long as the vehicle remains in the fleet.”

CARB defines small fleets as “three or fewer diesel vehicles.”

Nichols said truck owners that already invested in upgrades to meet the rule’s previous enforcement dates will be provided added compliance time “beyond what is currently allowed to keep trucks they have retrofitted.”

Most trucks and buses were required by the rule to have a diesel particulate filter installed by Jan. 1, 2014. Responding to widespread outcry concerning the rule’s effects on California’s trucking and agriculture industry, CARB staff announced proposals to ease enforcement last fall by expanding the rule’s exemptions. The Truck and Bus Rule’s exemptions now include existing low-mileage agriculture vehicles, existing low-mileage construction trucks, existing particulate matter phase-in requirements, and a 5,000-mile low-use exemption for trucks that drive in areas classified as “NOx-exempt.”

Last fall, the air quality agency also waived enforcement for the first six months of 2014 for truck owners who ordered trucks or diesel particulate filters or could prove they were turned down for a loan to purchase equipment to meet the rule.

April’s meeting may shed light on just how many trucks have been upgraded to meet the rule’s requirements.

According to a survey by the OOIDA Foundation, about 154,000, or 77 percent, of OOIDA members who are owner-operators drive trucks that are 2006 or older and don’t meet the Truck and Bus Rule. That percentage is consistent with national estimates of registered class 8 diesel trucks.

CARB is enforcing the rule on trucking company owners, operators, motor carriers, brokers and dispatchers. In January, CARB said truck owners and operators who need to demonstrate their compliance with the regulation to brokers and dispatchers can obtain a verification certificate quickest by reporting online.

CARB is accepting public comments on the rule beginning March 7 until 5 p.m. April 21. To provide comments, click here.

The board meeting will begin at 9 a.m. April 24 at the Byron Sher Auditorium at CARB headquarters in Sacramento.

For more information, go to the Truck and Bus Rule section on the CARB website here. CARB’s diesel hotline is available at 866-6DIESEL (866-634-3735) or by email at

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