After months of increasing political pressure from truck owners, politicians, and regulators in rural areas of California questioning the environmental and cost benefit of the California Air Resource Boards Statewide Truck and Bus regulation, the agency issued a long awaited regulatory advisory on November 13th, 2013 that could offer relief for some truck owners facing a January 1, 2014 compliance date.

The CARB advisory announced a new “Good Faith Effort” policy that will extend the compliance date from January 1, 2014 to July 1, 2014 for all truck owners (regardless of which state you are domiciled) who register through CARB’s Truck Regulations Upload and Compliance Reporting System (TRUCRS) and did any of the following:

  • Entered into an agreement with an authorized retrofit installer for a PM filter retrofit
  • Signed a purchase contract and ordered a replacement truck that is equipped with a PM filter (2007 model-year engine or newer)
  • Were approved or denied a loan or other financing for a retrofit PM filter or for a replacement truck that is equipped with a PM filter

Additionally, for truck owners with one to three trucks, CARB has reopened the application process for Proposition 1B grant funding to replace a truck with a new or newer truck meeting 2010 or later emissions standards. Previously, owner-operators were specifically excluded from applying for a state-funded grant. There are very specific eligibility requirements that must be met in order to apply for a grant and if a truck owner applies for a grant and registers in TRUCRS, they will be able to operate their current truck until July 1, 2014.

Other Flexibility Options
The Statewide Truck and Bus final rule established various exemptions/extensions available for truck owners. Virtually all of these alternate compliance options were no longer available for truck owners because the “opt in” periods had closed. All of the various options will be reopened for registration in anticipation of the CARB Board approving changes at its April 2014 public hearing. Many of the exemptions/extensions will only be of benefit to truck owners based in California. The categories being reopened are:

  • For vehicles to newly register for the existing low mileage agricultural vehicle extension
  • For vehicles to newly register for the existing low mileage construction truck extension
  • For vehicles to newly register for the existing PM phase-in requirements
  • The definition of “NOx exempt” areas will be expanded
  • For the low-use exemption which will be increased for all trucks that are operated a total of less than 5,000 miles per year

Of the five flex options, the Low-Use exemption may create the most controversy because CARB staff is proposing a significant change to the rule that will only benefit in-state truck operators. The current regulation defines a qualified “Low-Use Vehicle” as, “a vehicle that will be operated fewer than 1,000 miles in California in any compliance year.” That language will remain and allows any out-of-state truck owner to register in TRUCRS and operate each truck no more than 1,000 annual miles in California without needing to comply with the rule by retrofitting with a DPF or replacing their current truck.

CARB staff is proposing to increase the Low-Use threshold to 5,000 miles annually, but is bending to pressure from certain in-state interests that would disallow out-of-state trucks owners from equally utilizing the additional 4,000 annual miles. This would be accomplished by making a none-too-subtle language change in the rule that to use the increased 5,000 mile exemption you would need to include all vehicle miles – not just California-only miles. Obviously, this is a significant change to the current rule and will be open for discussion at the various workshops CARB will hold around the state in December. This particular amendment has a strong chance to be approved by the board in the absence of any involvement in the process from out-of-state interests. Proof of the old adage, “if you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.”

It is important to note that if you travel a significant amount of miles annually in California, you still face a January 1, 2014 compliance date and the only reprieve available for you as a truck owner would be taking advantage of the new “Good Faith Effort.” 

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