CARB’s amended port regulation still may hurt long-haul truckers

| 12/18/2007

One week after the dust settled from a new port truck rule, one OOIDA official is saying the California Air Resources Board has likely burdened interstate truckers with red tape.

In early December, CARB unanimously approved a new statewide rule aimed at cutting port truck emissions.

The rule means that by Dec. 31, 2009, all drayage trucks must meet 1994 model year engines or newer, and 1994-2003 engines must have a CARB-certified retrofit. By Dec. 31, 2013, all drayage trucks must meet 2007 emission standards.

More information is available on the CARB Web site; click here.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s regulatory affairs specialist, traveled to CARB’s Dec. 7 meeting and told board members that the port program’s definition of drayage trucks as “any truck 33,000 pounds or greater that enters or leaves a port” casts too wide a net.

The agency’s goal of removing the dirtiest of nearly 17,000 trucks that visit the ports every day wrongfully includes long haul drivers, most of whom drive late model trucks, Rajkovacz said.

“Once again, this is one size fits all,” Rajkovacz told Land Line. “If that’s where CARB is going, they clearly aren’t getting relevant information about how the industry is made up.”

OOIDA’s harshest criticism of the port rule was that trucks from out-of-state were required to be on a drayage truck registry – a list including specific truck maintenance information.

The truck registry requires all trucks to have a sticker showing they are emission compliant – a requirement that OOIDA officials believe violates Sec. 4306 of the SAFETEA-LU Act, in which Congress explicitly prohibited states and other local governments from requiring trucks engaged in interstate commerce to have additional identification.

The rule’s truck registry also would require truckers to report truck maintenance.

CARB is relying on individual ports to ensure that truckers have met the state’s truck maintenance requirement. Rajkovacz said he believes the system could leave the door wide open for drivers that would falsely claim maintenance had been performed out of state.

“The DTR (drayage truck registry) they’ve come up with seems rather benign, but to interstate truckers it actually will impose an onerous burden on interstate commerce in that they will be required to register with another database in order to conduct their business,” Rajkovacz said.

“The DTR is unlikely to achieve the level of compliance CARB would like because the nature of it makes it ripe for fraud. And the problem with CARB being allowed to maintain its DTR and credentialing requirement is that it’s very likely that other jurisdictions, environmental agencies, rail and port yards will now feel emboldened to create their own set of credentialing and unique registries in order to access those facilities.”

CARB could have chosen to enforce emission laws with their own enforcement officers, Rajkovacz said.

“The best solution would be using actual CARB enforcement people at the ports, doing spot-checks,” Rajkovacz said. “That would probably give you the better result than this system they’ve chosen. And it would have avoided complications with interstate commerce.”

CARB responded to OOIDA’s concerns and tweaked its port truck rule immediately before it was approved. The agency amended the rule to allow OOIDA to suggest a solution for trucks to show compliance to the state port truck rule.

“They were trying to deal with our objections in their final rule, but in all honesty, it’s a distinction without a difference,” Rajkovacz said.

Mike Miguel, who heads the CARB staff team developing the port truck regulation, confirmed that the rule was changed after OOIDA expressed its concerns.

“The proposed modifications were not substantial,” Miguel told Land Line. “We gave them some flexibility on how they could show they meet the regulatory requirements.”

Retrofit devices may be installed to meet the new emission standards, but truckers themselves won’t be installing them, Miguel said.

“It will have to be done by a certified installer,” Miguel said. “It’s not an easy install – though that’s not to say the manufacturer of these retrofit devices won’t have a program people could use to get certified.”

CARB will work to finalize the port truck rule over coming months before getting the word out to truckers, Miguel said.

“How do we contact these drivers so they’re aware upfront, so they’re not turned away at the gate or hit with a fine at the last minute?” Miguel said. “We need to put together an outreach program so that everybody is aware of that.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer