CARB unanimously approves final touches on Truck and Bus Rule

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 11/21/2014

The California Air Resources Board moved Thursday to approve final changes to its most expensive in-use trucking regulation on the books.

During its two-day monthly meeting Thursday, board members unanimously approved amendments to require small trucking fleets to have their second truck meet the Truck and Bus Regulation’s standards by January 2017.

Predicted to cost the industry more than $1 billion, the Truck and Bus 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.

Thursday’s CARB meeting was noticeably quiet compared to previous board meetings when the agency’s auditorium was crammed with truck owners, farmers and environmental activists critical of the air quality agency. After facing an angry crowd last October, CARB pushed back January 2014 requirements until staff could propose additional compliance options for small trucking fleets of one to three trucks.

CARB approved multiple changes in April 2014, including the addition of two more years of time before small fleets had to upgrade their first truck. Small fleets now must upgrade their second truck by January 2017, CARB staff member Beth White said Thursday. Previous versions of the regulation had required small fleets to upgrade their second truck by January 2016.

Other changes CARB made to the final rule this year include the following:

Low-Mileage Work Truck Phase-In, which allows construction trucks “and other work trucks” that travel less than 20,000 miles per year, as long as the fleet has a specified number of particulate matter filters, to be exempt from the rule;

Low-use Exemption, which allows trucks that operate 5,000 miles or less annually to be exempt from the rule;

Oxides of Nitrogen Exempt Area extension, which allows trucks that operate exclusively in specified regions with low levels of NOx to be exempt;

Small Fleet Option, which allows fleets of three or fewer to defer compliance dates of second trucks to January 2017 and for a third truck to January 2018;

Cattle Livestock Trucks, which allows a specialty agricultural truck extension;

Economic Hardship Extension, which allows truck owners to defer compliance for the PM filter requirement until Jan. 1, 2017 if they’re unable to afford to comply and can’t get financing.

Without a single comment from the public, CARB’s board members offered few comments about the rule that spurred lawsuits from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and others.

CARB first approved the regulation in December 2008.

“It has gone on for a long time,” CARB Chairman Mary Nichols said during Thursday’s meeting. “But this bifurcated process seems to be the best and clearest and way to comply with our obligations.”

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