Hold that bus: CARB eyes slowdown, amendments to truck and bus rule

| 3/29/2010

A weak economy and fewer trucks on the road may have a silver lining – a relaxation of some upcoming CARB trucking regulations.

Late Friday, March 26, CARB said it would propose several amendments to its on-road truck and bus regulation by late this summer. The announcement came just a few days after the air quality agency unveiled a relaxed second phase of its TRU (reefer) rule.

Written under the authority A.B. 32 – the 2006 law that addresses global warming – the truck and bus rule also known as the retrofit rule requires trucking fleets to acquire diesel particulate matter filters and upgrade their truck engines beginning in 2012. Most small trucking businesses – including fleets of one to three trucks – will be exempt until 2014.

CARB’s estimates have placed the rule’s cost impact for the transportation industry at between $6 billion and $10 billion.

According to CARB, the economy and lower emissions data prompted the agency to look at relaxing the rule.

“At an update to the Board on Dec. 9, 2009, staff presented the results of an analysis that showed that because of the current global recession, emissions are currently lower than originally anticipated,” a CARB statement reads. “Since the Board hearing, several additional events have occurred prompting the Board’s executive officer to review and reassess the estimate of emissions, and to re-evaluate the emissions reductions needed to meet the 2014 deadline.”

The truck and bus regulation was tarnished last December when it was revealed that CARB Chairman Mary Nichols knew the truck regulation’s top researcher falsified his resume and lied repeatedly to his superiors at the air quality agency.

CARB Board Member John Telles criticized both Nichols and Hien Tran, the CARB statistician who later admitted he lied.

Nichols admitted that she told a few members of the board but didn’t share it with the entire board before the rule was adopted in December 2008. The board decided in December 2009 to re-evaluate the science behind the rule this spring.

“The report was written – over 50 percent of it – by an author who has misrepresented his education,” Telles said in December 2009. “To me, that means the report is not acceptable.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer