CARB delays several diesel rules; OOIDA critical of process

| Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The California Air Resources Board relaxed several diesel rules on Friday – though the rules will still cost trucking companies billions of dollars to comply with in the next four years.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association was critical of the process in which CARB collected public comments and seemed to spend little time addressing them before adopting the rule changes.

The board voted to amend its statewide on-road truck and bus regulation; its port truck regulation; its greenhouse gas emission (SmartWay) regulation; and its port truck rule.

The on-road truck and bus regulation requires all trucks to meet 2010 model year engine emissions standards by the year 2023, and for fleets to begin meeting other diesel emission standards by 2014 through a variety of compliance options. More information about the on-road rule is available by clicking here.

The port truck (drayage) regulation requires all trucks working at the ports to have diesel particulate filters by 2014. The drayage regulation has already banned 1993 and older model year engine trucks and requires diesel particulate filters on some trucks earlier this year. The amendments include new requirements to include trucks that operate outside port and rail facilities. For more information on the drayage regulation, click here.

The greenhouse gas emission (SmartWay) rule requires use of EPA SmartWay-certified tractors and trailers, or retrofit of existing trucks and trailers with a combination of SmartWay-approved tires and aerodynamic features designed to improve fuel efficiency. The amendments add a one-year delay for the requirement that low-rolling-resistance tires be used on 2010 and older model year engine trucks, add a four-year delay for the same requirement on trailers, and add flexibility to reporting requirements.

The board also delayed compliance rules for some trailers that can’t be retrofitted with SmartWay-verified technologies.

OOIDA issued comments to the board on two of the proposed rules. CARB’s comment and board meeting process, however, likely prevented board members from reading many of the comments.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs director, said CARB closed its comment period at noon Wednesday before going into its monthly meeting Thursday morning. During the two-day meeting, members of the public were allotted a few minutes each to make their points.

Brief discussion preceded Board votes.

“There is no conceivable way CARB vetted all of the comments submitted to the agency on this rule,” Rajkovacz said. “Because the vote was taken immediately after receiving public comments, and because the CARB board was engrossed in this public hearing for two days, it is inconceivable that the board members had any awareness to points made by many commenters to their docket.”

OOIDA’s filed comments before last week’s meeting on two of the proposed rules. The comments are available on the Association’s website by clicking here for the greenhouse gas rule comments, and here for the on-road rule comments.

During Friday’s public comment period, Susan Jones, who owns a small dump truck operation with her husband, described their business as “the perfect example of the mom and pop operation” squeezed by CARB’s rules.

Neither their 1988 nor their 1991 trucks can be retrofitted by to meet the on-road rule standards, said Jones, a member of the California Dump Truck Owners Association.

Though they had qualified for a $50,000 grant through state grant money, California’s budget deficit froze those funds before they could use them.

Because business has been so scarce, she said, the leftover payment after the grant would have sunk their business and their other property, Jones said.

“I really, really believe you guys have got to give us mom and pop operations – the low-mileage guys – more time,” Jones told the Board. “We want to comply, but we can’t even make it. We are in horrible shape with this recession. Please give us some time. Thank you.”

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