To be sure, the California Air Resources Board has laid a heavy hand on trucking in recent months.
The state begins enforcing a new five-minute limit on idling on Jan. 1, 2008, and plans are in the works to require retrofitting of truck engines that don’t meet 2007 model year standards.
Trucks aren’t alone, however.
In recent months, CARB has moved to ban sales of certain vacuum cleaners and air filters that emit high levels of ozone and studied possible requirements to use paints and windshields on passenger vehicles that reflect heat – the goal being that drivers would use their air conditioners less.
While some emissions cuts may seem frivolous, the agency aims to cut greenhouse-gas emissions any way it can as industries like trucking wait for cleaner burning technology to be developed.
During CARB’s Nov. 15 meeting, board members and activists used the phrase, “collecting coins in a piggy bank,” when referring to emissions cuts.
“I’m not satisfied with where we are today, not willing to say this is the best we can do,” said CARB Chair Mary Nichols. “We want to continue to push for the strongest possible regulations, review that where it is necessary and if we have to – take a stronger hand.”
Just this month, CARB adopted the first rules of their kind to limit emissions on some ship engines. The agency is working to require electrification for docked ships, and is pursuing airplane and train emissions restrictions also.
CARB famously fined celebrity Jesse James for $271,000 for motorcycles the reality TV star had that didn’t meet California emissions standards.
Of course, this may not make owner-operators feel better.
At the Nov. 15 board meeting, a trucking company owner by the name of Jim told CARB that a proposed in-use, on-road diesel truck rule would cause him to replace 18 trucks by 2010.
Jim, who said he is asthmatic, said the truck owners are only a small piece of the goods movement industry, and can’t possibly bear the costs of replacing older or even late model engines.
“The people I haul for don’t care, really about air quality. Their job is to build things and to ship them,” he said.
Nichols answered the trucking company owner’s comments.
“We’ll get through this,” Nichols said. “I promise you.”
– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer