The wacky world of environmental regulations got wackier yesterday as the California Air Resources Board (ARB) extended a compliance deadline for certain fleet owners of diesel fueled trucks. Before the changes were approved, owners of those vehicles were required to install costly diesel filters or upgrade to newer models that met state standards diesel fired emissions.
The existing Truck and Bus Regulation was adopted in 2008 to reduce particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. It required nearly all heavier trucks to have filters to reduce PM emissions by January 1, 2012, and the replacement of older trucks by January 1, 2015.
At yesterday's hearing, several small business owners asked the ARB for compliance relief due to economic hardships and/or their inability to secure the necessary financing to purchase new equipment before the existing deadline. However, the ARB also heard testimony from others in the trucking industry who were adamantly opposed to any extension. They protested that because they had already come into compliance, they would be put into an economic and competitive disadvantage if the ARB extended the deadline for its competitors who had not yet complied.
The approved amendments include more time for rural areas, 2nd and 3rd trucks in small fleets, and those who cannot secure financing. Additional timeline adjustments were given for low-use vehicles, certain agricultural vehicles, and heavy cranes.
In an attempt to appease those who have already invested in complying with the regulations, the ARB extended the use of existing PM filter retrofits and phase-in option credits.
“We recognize the enormous investments that many businesses have already made to clean up their equipment and abide by the terms of the regulation,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols, “but we are also aware that, particularly for many rural areas of the state, economic recovery has been painfully slow and funding for improvements scarce.
“By providing limited additional time for certain fleets to comply, we believe that we’ll have higher compliance rates overall. It’s a difficult balance but we believe that this is a fair approach that offers flexibility to those who need it, while also rewarding those business owners who have already upgraded their vehicles to meet the requirements of the regulation.”