By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, November 11, 2013
The California Air Resources Board is considering a move that would help out-of-state truck drivers be able to make limited trips through California even if their trucks don’t meet the state’s most expensive emissions regulation.
In its original form, CARB’s On-Road Truck and Bus Regulation was predicted to cost the trucking industry billions of dollars in truck replacement or retrofit work. The rule requires most trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 14,000 pounds to be upgraded either with diesel particulate filters or by upgrading to cleaner and newer engines between 2012 and 2023.
At CARB’s Oct. 24-25 board meeting, CARB staff outlined a plan to allow its 1,000-mile annual exemption from the Truck and Bus Rule to be expanded to 5,000 miles.
Violet Martin, air pollution specialist with CARB’s Mobile Source Control Division, estimated that 15,000 trucks still need an emissions upgrade by the end of 2013.
“Staff believes this will provide targeted relief to fleets that most need assistance without appreciably changing the overall benefits of the regulation or the ability of non-attainment regions to meet federal air quality standards,” Martin said.
CARB also could examine furthering its financial incentive programs aimed at helping small business trucking operations. Martin said staff plans to present the 5,000 mile exemption plan by CARB’s April 2014 board meeting.
The proposal to boost the mileage was presented before a passionate discussion about the Truck and Bus Rule.
CARB’s records show 43 individuals lined up to address the board about the On-Road Rule. Several speakers, including Redding Mayor Rick Bosetti, warned about the danger of hurting trucking and other industries that rely on diesel trucks. Others that spoke questioned CARB’s figure of 15,000 for trucks still needing to be upgraded, with many suggesting that number is closer to 500,000.
“You have over a half a million trucks based outside the state of California that still are required to be in compliance,” Karen Pelle told the board. Pelle said she has replaced multiple diesel particulate filters that have had cracks.
Skip Davies, Mayor of Woodland, CA, estimated the rule would shutter 60 to 80 percent of small trucking businesses in his county.
“We still have technology issues with the filters,” Davies said. “They don’t all work. They plug up. Some have to be replaced.”
Several CARB board members indicated support for expanding the mileage requirement to 5,000 miles, and looking at other ways to help small-business truck owners.
Greg Furlong, an owner-operator, said he put 3 million miles on a 1981 Peterbilt before selling it in 2003 to buy a brand-new Peterbilt that year. The rule’s requirement that he add a filter has worried his family and may force him to leave his lifelong career, Furlong said.
“It’s been my life since I bought my first truck in ’68,” Furlong said. “Basically, I’m going to be out of business.”
Skip Thomson, member of the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District, said he watched CARB’s television commercial about the Truck and Bus rule and its “Just do it” slogan.
“Just doing it could cost anywhere between $20,000 for a new filter up to $140,000 for a new truck,” Thomson said. “So ‘Just doing it’ is a little problematic for some of my constituents. … This is an extreme burden on our small businesses.”
CARB’s board members reflected concern about the welfare of businesses, though more than one member mentioned the need to continue pursuing regulations that would better air quality and public health.
CARB Chairman Mary Nichols said she had a “particular bias in favor of the proposal to increase the size of the low-mileage exemption.”
“I’m also very interested in pursuing further this question of whether there are trucks who – either by the nature of their business or by where they’re located – should not have the same level of concern for us from a regulatory public health perspective,” Nichols said. “Having said all of that, I also can’t help remind us that at the end of the day, by its very nature, regulation advantages some more than others and disadvantages some other than others.”
Board Member Sandra Berg, who said she owned 17 trucks and supported staff’s recommendation to increase the mileage limit for the exemption, said she has followed the rule closely as it has developed since 2008.
“This is for real,” Berg said. “People are not coming here to talk about these issues in a way to be defiant, or flippant. ... I can’t express strongly enough the need that regulation should not drive small businesses out of business. We need small businesses here in California, and the regulation does tend to weigh heavily – almost four times the amount of cost on small businesses as it does on large businesses.”
For more information, go to the Truck and Bus Rule section on the CARB website here. CARB’s diesel hotline is available at 1-866-6DIESEL (866-634-3735) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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