CARB board members acknowledge regs are ‘a speeding conveyer belt’

| Thursday, October 25, 2007

Truckers who feel they’re drowning in environmental regulations from California aren’t alone.

Board members for the California Air Resources Board appeared flustered Thursday, Oct. 25, by the sheer number and breadth of proposed regulations on their agenda related to emissions and greenhouse gases.

“This feels to me like regulation on steroids,” said Board Member Sandra Berg. “Global warming is a problem, a significant problem that we need to address, but we don’t want to address it with things that are going to implode and have other unintended consequences … because we felt so compelled to push early that we missed (them).

“I’m very, very concerned about that.”

Expressing similar concerns, Board Member Daniel Sperling said CARB should consider bundling and grouping certain regulations that share a common thread. CARB must maintain a balance of mandating technology requirements and encouraging people not to harm their environment, Sperling said.

“In terms of early action items – in many ways I get worried because there are so many of them and this is just the beginning,” Sperling said.

“There will be hundreds and hundreds more of them – that would worry me. I think we need to be thinking much more in terms of how we can cluster initiatives and actions and programs...This won’t work if we just adopt rules telling people and companies what to do. There has to be some kind of buy-in.”

The board members’ concerns didn’t prevent them from directing agency staffers at Thursday’s meeting to work on multiple regulations aimed at reducing emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks.

The board approved plans to continue pursuing individual regulations to make mandatory the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay truck aerodynamic program, a tire inflation program and other initiatives that will be presented to the board individually during the next two years.

If approved, the aerodynamic program would mean that in coming years trucks traveling California highways would have to be equipped with farings, trailer skirts and a tail that adds a rocket-ship effect. The state also wants to electrify all parking spaces at truckstops. Also, truck owners would be encouraged to use wide-base tires and other technology aimed at preventing low-pressure wastes of fuel.

The board reclassified several measures as “early discrete action measures” – including the SmartWay program, and tire inflation program and expected to be in effect by 2010.

CARB also plans to beef up anti-idling enforcement and triple the agency’s $100 fines to $300 for drivers caught violating the five-minute idling limit, which is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2008.

Also Thursday, CARB members directed staff to develop a way to quantify and document when individuals and businesses take voluntary measures to reduce greenhouse gas output. Staff members hinted that such voluntary measures could affect how vigorously regulations would be enforced on those same businesses later.

For more information, visit CARB’s Web site at http://www.arb.ca.gov/.

Requiring retrofitting of trailers and trucks with aerodynamic systems may create more problems than it solves, said Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs.

“This is the kind of stuff that gives environmentalism a bad name – it is literally micromanagement to the nth –degree,” Rajkovacz said. “It will tremendously boost the costs for our members to even adhere to follow this regulation.”

During Thursday’s CARB meeting, several board members acknowledged CARB’s new direction under Assembly Bill 32 – a law approved last year that gave the agency power to research, write and enforce regulations tied to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. But the board members also seemed concerned about the agency’s staff and its ability to gather stakeholder input from affected industry before writing and enforcing the new laws.

“All we’ve done now is speed up the conveyer belt,” a CARB staff member said.

However, Chairman Mary Nichols told the Board, CARB has legal authority to pursue measures that reduce emissions and the agency will address such reductions.

“If you thought this was a part-time board – you’ll be surprised and perhaps pleased, I hope, at the level of engagement called for,” Nichols said. “I think we have a huge task ahead of us but it is one we’re well prepared to do. We’ve got all the help we could hope for, all the support we can get from the Governor and legislators.”

CARB’s recent efforts have “sent a signal about the seriousness” of emissions, Sperling said, and other states have begun adopting California’s emissions initiatives.

“The world’s eyes are on us,” he said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer
charlie_morasch@landlinemag.com

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