The California Air Resources Board adopted amendments to its Truck and Bus Regulation that will provide new flexible compliance options to owners of aging diesel fleets and recognize fleet owners that have made investments to comply, while also protecting air quality.
Background. The Truck and Bus Regulation was adopted in 2008 to clean up harmful 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 Jan. 2014, and that nearly all trucks have them installed by 1 Jan. 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.
The 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 amendments. The changes approved at yesterday’s Board hearing provide additional regulatory flexibility to small fleets, lower use vehicles, and fleets in rural areas that have made substantial progress towards cleaner air. Fleets that have invested in cleaner, compliant equipment and trucks will be able to use credits longer and any vehicles retrofit by 2014 do not have to be replaced until 2023.
The amendments, while potentially delaying compliance for some, will still protect air quality, preserving 93% of the NOx (oxides of nitrogen) and diesel particulate matter (PM) benefits of the original regulation, according to ARB Chairman Mary Nichols.
The amendments 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 incentive funding opportunities for small fleets;
A new compliance option for owners who cannot currently afford compliance;
Expansion of the low-use exemption and the construction truck extension; and
Recognition of fleet owners who have already complied by providing additional “useable life” for retrofit trucks and reducing near-term compliance requirements.
The amendments will still ensure that, by 2020, nearly every truck in California will have a PM filter, consistent with the goals of the Diesel Risk Reduction Plan.