On April 25, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a two-and-a-half year enforcement delay to the state’s Truck and Bus Regulation for small trucking companies who are struggling to obtain loans and grants to make required improvements on time.
CARB's action will give small fleets, lightly used trucks and those operating in rural areas more time to upgrade to newer, cleaner models or install filters to remove soot from their exhaust. The extended phase-in deadlines for small fleet mean that truck owners with three or fewer trucks now have an extra year to bring their second truck into compliance and an extra two years for their third truck, as CARB extended the phase-in deadlines for second and third trucks from January 1, 2015 and 2016, to January 1, 2016 and 2018, respectively.
The vote marks the second time CARB has relaxed
its diesel truck regulations since 2010, when it made changes to offer
the industry relief after the recession. The extensions, approved by a 10-1 vote, came after pleas from small trucking firms and owner-operators who became subject to new pollution-cutting requirements for the first time this year. The amendments were adopted over fierce objections from another segment of the industry: truck owners who have already made the costly upgrades.
Multiple speakers at Thursday’s public hearing slammed CARB for sparking a civil war between large carriers and owner-operators that counted as small fleets under CARB’s definition. The large carriers said they didn’t like being put in a position to argue against mom and pop trucking operations – many of whom they hire.
Among those urging regulators to hold to the deadlines were environmental groups and students from Oakland who live near freeways with heavy truck traffic and cope with respiratory illnesses. "We understand that cleaning up trucks is expensive, but somebody has to pay," said Pamela Tapia, a community college student from Oakland with asthma. "Right now we're paying with our health and that's not right."
Final versions of the amendments will be produced within the next few months and will have a 15-day public comment period, after which CARB will put them into effect.