California seeks EPA waiver to change long-term emissions plan

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, August 08, 2016

The California Air Resources Board has tightened emissions measures for a number of diesel truck regulations during the last few years. As part of its formal compliance with federal laws, CARB has asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency for a waiver of pre-emption.

The Federal Register scheduled two notices for publication Tuesday, Aug. 9. The first notice requests a waiver of pre-emption for California’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulation for new 2014 and newer model year on-road medium and heavy-duty engines and vehicles – also known as the California Phase 1 GHG Regulation. The rule brings California into line with federal emissions regulations enforced by EPA including greenhouse gas emissions limits that grow more stringent through 2018.

The second notice asks for a waiver of pre-emption for CARB’s amendments to the state’s In-Use Compliance Program and its 2007 and subsequent model year regulation. Amendments include a measure adopted by CARB in 2011 that allows a measurement allowance of .006 grams per brake horsepower-hour when using portable emission measurement systems during the state’s on-road in-use testing of big rigs. Additionally, the state has updated its truck idling requirements to reflect that some vehicles are exempt from new vehicle requirements.

Idling beyond five minutes is generally prohibited for all heavy-duty diesel vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 10,000 or more pounds.

Waivers of pre-emption allow a state or Indian tribe to enforce a requirement that is at least as protective as federal regulatory standards. Typically, federally enacted legislation takes priority over state laws.

EPA has scheduled a public hearing on the waiver request for Sept. 28.

A prepublished draft of the Federal Register notice invited public comment on three criteria for the waiver for California’s Phase 1 Greenhouse Gas regulation: first, whether California’s determination that its motor vehicle emission standards are “at least as protective of public health and welfare as applicable federal standards is arbitrary and capricious.” The second question is whether California needs such standards to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions. Lastly, the notice asks whether California’s standards and accompanying enforcement procedures are consistent with the mobile sources portion of the federal Clean Air Act.

The same three criteria are repeated for the In-Use amendments and Truck Idling Rule amendments.

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