Truck drivers fill courtroom to support lawsuit against CARB

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, October 27, 2014

Dozens of truck drivers packed a county courtroom last week to support a lawsuit that seeks to halt California’s requirement that big rigs be retrofitted with diesel particulate filters.

The Alliance of California Business has an ongoing civil lawsuit that seeks to stop California’s Truck and Bus Regulation, also known as the retrofit rule. The regulation 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.

Filed in Glenn Superior Court in California,, the lawsuit has argued the filters are mechanically flawed, have caused trucks to break down on highways and pose a safety risk to truck drivers and the public. The ACB has asked for a preliminary injunction to stop the regulation from being enforced.

On Oct. 17, attorneys for the ACB submitted personal testimony from dozens of truck drivers who detailed financial problems associated with the mechanical failures of diesel particulate filters.  Attorney Therese Cannata requested the court to give the ACB an opportunity to present evidence of DPF problems from eyewitnesses and experts.

Glenn Superior Court Judge Peter Twede reportedly said the case has buried him in paperwork beyond typical cases.

“This is an important case, so I have been willing to bend the rules,” Twede said, according to the Glenn County Transcript.

In August, CARB attempted to have the lawsuit thrown out on technical grounds that the complaint was filed too late. CARB has been represented in court by California Deputy Attorney General Russell Hildreth. The ACB countered by saying the question of whether the suit was timely is a question of fact that must be decided by evidence.

Twede took the matter under submission and said he will issue a ruling after looking further at documents filed by both sides.

“This was an important day because it sent a message to CARB that the voice of the ACB stretches all over the North State, from small independent truck owner operators and farmers,” Alliance for California Business President Bud Caldwell said, according to the organization’s news release. “Hopefully CARB’s attorneys were at least able to see a small cross-section of the people affected by CARB’s ill-considered regulations.”

The case’s next court date is scheduled for Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. for a hearing of the ACB’s motion for preliminary injunction.

“At that hearing, ACB will present declarations (and possibly live testimony) of witnesses who have experienced the mechanical failures and fires caused by the DPF device and experts who will explain why that is happening,” an ACB news release said.

ACB is asking anyone who has experienced problems with DPF devices to contact Steve Caldwell at 530-342-6511 or by email at allianceforca@gmail.com.

In April, CARB amended the Truck and Bus Rule in response to outcry that many trucking companies couldn’t afford to comply with the rule – billed as the state’s most expensive truck emissions regulation to date.

Citing economic factors, CARB proposed to allow small trucking companies more compliance time – including a new deadline of 2018 for small trucking companies that were rejected loans for new truck purchases.

For more information on how to comply with CARB’s Truck and Bus Rule, call CARB’s Diesel Hotline at 1-866-6DIESEL or email 8666diesel@arb.ca.gov. The air quality agency’s Truckstop website is available here.

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