Late last week the California Air Resources Board (CARB) unveiled several amendments to its Truck and Bus Regulation that are designed to provide new flexibility to truckers working to clean up their aging diesel fleets, while still protecting the important emission benefits the regulation provides, according to the board. CARB members will consider the changes at the April 24 hearing.
The proposed changes were developed after some stakeholders voiced concerns regarding their ability to comply with the regulation at the October 2013 Board hearing. Truckers were able to expand on these concerns at five CARB-sponsored public workshops held across the state in December. CARB has come under fire by trucking groups for its regulation of the industry, including facing lawsuits from the California Construction Trucking Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
“The trucking community spoke and we listened,” said CARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “The good news is that we will not have to sacrifice the state’s air quality goals to assist fleet owners. These amendments, which include more flexible deadlines and increased opportunities to access incentive funding, will further our emissions reduction goals by better ensuring that fleets can meet the requirements of the regulation.”
Nichols added that if the board approves the changes, fleet owners who have already made investments to upgrade their vehicles will be provided with some benefits including additional time beyond what is currently allowed to keep trucks they have retrofitted.
“We recognize the huge investments that many business owners have already made in order to meet the requirements of the Truck and Bus Regulation,” Nichols said. “Their efforts have gone a long way toward helping us to meet our mandatory deadlines and we laud them for what they have accomplished.”
The proposed amendments provide additional regulatory flexibility to small fleets, lower mileage fleets and fleets in certain areas that have made substantial progress towards cleaner air. If approved, the amendments would better protect the emissions benefits of the regulation that are necessary to meet California’s air quality obligations under the federal Clean Air Act, as well as the goals of the CARB’s Diesel Risk Reduction Plan.
The proposed changes include a longer phase-in period for diesel PM requirements for trucks that operate exclusively in certain rural areas with cleaner air; additional time and opportunities for small fleet owners to apply for and receive public incentive funding to meet their PM compliance requirements; and recognition of fleet owners who took action to comply by providing additional “useable life” for retrofit trucks and reducing near-term compliance requirements.
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