CARB again says it may delay multibillion-dollar on-road truck rule

| 4/23/2010

Some truck owners may benefit from the California Air Resources Board’s repeated hints that it could relax its on-road truck and bus regulation.

A weakened U.S. economy and corresponding drops in truck emissions in recent years appears to have convinced the nation’s most aggressive air quality agency to consider a delay in enforcement of the rule for two years.

Written under the authority AB32 – the 2006 law that addresses global warming – the truck and bus rule is also known as the retrofit rule. It requires trucking fleets to acquire diesel particulate matter filters and upgrade their truck engines beginning in 2012.

CARB first announced in March it would consider slowing enforcement of the on-road rule– a sentiment the air quality agency repeated during its board meeting this week. It is unclear whether small trucking businesses, which already were exempt from enforcement of the rule until 2014 – will be affected by a potential delay.

Small trucking fleets are defined in the on-road rule as fleets of one to three trucks.

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

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.”

In March, CARB also announced it would delay the second phase of its two-tiered TRU (reefer rule).

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer