The California Air Resources Board has unveiled proposed amendments to its Truck and Bus Regulation. The amendments are designed to provide new flexibility to truckers working to clean up their aging diesel fleets while still protecting the emission benefits the regulation provides. Board members will consider the changes at the 24 April 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 ARB-sponsored public workshops held across the state in December.
The proposed changes include:
A longer phase-in period for diesel particulate matter (PM) requirements for trucks that operate exclusively in certain rural areas with cleaner air;
Additional time and a lower cost route for all small fleet owners to meet their PM compliance requirements, while reopening opportunities for these fleet owners to apply for and receive public incentive funding;
A compliance route for owners currently unable to qualify for a loan to finance required upgrades;
Adjusted schedules for low-use vehicles and certain work trucks; and
Recognition of fleet owners who took action to comply by providing additional “useable life” for retrofit trucks and reducing near-term compliance requirements.
Overall these amendments would also ensure that, by 2020, the annual emission reductions would be at the same level as with the existing regulation.
The Truck and Bus Regulation was adopted in 2008 to reduce emissions from nearly all heavy-duty diesel trucks operating in California. The Regulation was amended in 2010 to provide economic relief to truckers affected by the recession, particularly small fleets, by delaying the first compliance requirements by one year and extending the time the truck could be operated before needing to be replaced.
Approximately 1 million trucks operate annually on California highways. Roughly 625,000 are based out of state. Of the remaining 400,000 registered in California, about half are in small fleets of three or less.
The Regulation currently requires most heavy trucks in California to install soot filters or upgrade to newer models with filters by 1 January 2014, and that nearly all trucks have them installed by 1 January 2016.
For small fleets (three or fewer vehicles), 1 Jan 2014 was a critical compliance milestone because for the first time at least one vehicle in each fleet needed to comply.
At its October 2013 meeting, the Board heard an update on the Regulation and agreed with staff’s proposal to move forward with a number of near-term strategies to provide flexibility while not compromising the overall reduction and health benefits to be achieved by the Regulation.