CARB confusion? Agency says low-use exemption can come two ways

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, November 18, 2013

In late October, the California Air Resources Board considered a plan that sounded as if it would exempt most long-haulers that don’t often run in the state from its most expensive trucking regulation.

Rather than comply with CARB’s Truck and Bus Rule, also known as the On-Road Rule, CARB staff proposed an exemption for trucks that ran less than 5,000 miles annually.

After a week of disagreement about the exemption in industry publications and trucking talk radio, CARB cleared the matter up Monday, Nov. 18.

CARB Spokeswoman Karen Caesar said heavy-duty diesel trucks that operate in California may be exempt from the Truck and Bus Rule by meeting one of two standards.

“The low-use definition as proposed is 5,000 total miles on the truck in one year,” Caesar said. “Or, for interstate trucks that travel more than 5,000 miles per year, they can still use the low-use exemption if they travel less than 1,000 miles within the state’s borders for the year.”

CARB also says trucks can’t use the exemption without notifying the state. Truck owners that either will use the exemption or will upgrade their trucks to meet the rule’s requirements must sign up with the rule’s registry system.

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, 43 individuals spoke about the Truck and Bus Rule, including many small-business truckers who worried the rule’s 2014 requirements would put them under.

Several CARB board members expressed concern that the rule could be forcing businesses to fail and showed support for the exemption.

“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 large businesses,” Board Member Sandra Berg said in October.

The proposed exemption prompted questions about whether the 5,000-mile limit meant in the state of California only, since CARB’s regulatory authority is there.

OOIDA’s Business Assistance Department took nearly 150 phone calls about CARB in early November.

The exemption is planned to be considered at CARB’s April 2014 board meeting. In the meantime, CARB announced last week that it would waive enforcement of the rule for the first six months of 2014 for truck owners who ordered trucks, diesel particulate filters or could prove they were turned down for a loan to purchase equipment to meet the rule.

For more information, go to the Truck and Bus Rule section on the CARB website here. CARB’s diesel hotline is available at 866-6DIESEL (866-634-3735) or by email at 8666diesel@arb.ca.gov.

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