CARB loaded: Proposed laws will affect all over-the-road trucks and ports by 2009

| 7/27/2007

Editor’s note: This is the third part in a series about CARB and its growing importance nationally and in trucking. Click here to read the first part of the series, which took a look at the 40-year-old agency’s past, present, and future, and here for the second part of the series, which gives an overview of trucking-related regulations that will soon begin going into effect in the Golden State.

For more information on how California's new regs will affect APUs, click here.

Nearly 15 percent of California children are diagnosed with asthma, compared to 12 percent of children nationally, according to a 2003 study by the California Center for Health Statistics.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Air Resources Board have cited similar statistics in their effort to clean the state’s air and meet federal mandates set in the Clean Air Act.

While most truckers have heard about CARB’s limits on diesel-fired APUs, reefers and idling taking effect in 2008, the agency is preparing to enact other laws aimed at tightening the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

One proposed law would restrict trucks allowed into ports, while the other would eliminate older over-the-road trucks from being allowed to run in the state entirely.

The proposed port regulation would prevent trucks from 1994 and older from entering ports by 2009, would prohibit 1997 model-year trucks and older by 2010, and would require all trucks to meet 2003 federal diesel emissions standards by retrofitting.

If adopted, CARB’s over-the-road rule will prohibit built in 1995 or older by the year 2009, with other trucks being removed in subsequent years.

By 2014, trucks emitting no more than a 2004 engine would be allowed, and by 2020, only 2007 model-year trucks would be allowed to run in the state.

Regardless of someone’s beliefs about global warming or the parallels CARB draws between emissions and medical issues, the agency’s tougher laws and enforcement are coming and are likely to be emulated by other states, said Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s regulatory affairs specialist.

While no one likes more red tape, drivers realize the air quality difference in California, Rajkovacz said.

“Any driver who’s operated in California is well aware of the poor air quality,” Rajkovacz said. “Dropping into the L.A. Basin, you can actually see the air you’re going to breathe.”

CARB collected more than $1 million in fines from trucking-related companies last year, and is hiring more enforcement officers to conduct roadside emissions testing and other compliance.

Rajkovacz has met with CARB officials and said OOIDA has participated in public meetings along with other trucking industry reps “to voice their concerns and objections” to proposed regulations.

Drivers do have options for retrofitting existing engines, Rajkovacz said, though that can mean as much as $12,000 to $14,000 for some retrofits, which will hurt a lot of small businesses.

“They’re deadly serious about doing this, however, regardless of someone’s individual politics,” Rajkovacz told Land Line Magazine. “I go back to the obvious – anybody who’s operated out there clearly has seen the air they’re going to breathe. They know there is a problem.”

Into the future
Critics have blamed Schwarzenegger from both sides of the emissions debate, with environmentalists questioning his commitment and industry leaders wondering about the governor’s stated reverence for the free-market system.

California must avoid “Mickey Mouse” politics and move forward with new limits on vehicle emissions, Schwarzenegger told reporters on July 3 while announcing his appointment of respected environmental attorney Mary Nichols to the head the CARB board.

Nichols will help CARB’s emission controls progress and lead the way as other states and countries are likely to follow the agency’s lead, Schwarzenegger said.

The governor recounted Nichols’ time as CARB chairwoman from 1978 to 1983, when the agency prepared several emissions laws including a bi-annual smog-check program for vehicles that went into effect in 1984. Her tenure proved Nichols “was unafraid and made bold decisions,” Schwarzenegger said.

Nichols will help California meet its goal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, Schwarzenegger told reporters, and the new appointee later said she planed to “reach out to all the affected communities in the state.”

“We’ve got to move very aggressively right now,” Schwarzenegger said.

Nichols approached the podium that day and aligned herself with Schwarzenegger.

“I can’t resist,” she said, pausing before referencing the governor’s Terminator character. “I’m back.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer