Alliance for California Business Press Release – October 8, 2015
CALIFORNIA AIR RESOURCES BOARD ADMITS: PUBLIC IS WITHOUT RECOURSE TO CHALLENGE DPF SAFETY; TRUCK OWNERS NOT ENTITLED TO EXEMPTION
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently filed a motion in Glenn County Superior Court to have the Court dismiss a case brought by the Alliance for California Business (the Alliance) challenging the safety of Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) and requiring CARB to cease its policy of forcing California truck and bus owners to have this dangerous device on their vehicles. The move by CARB is an obvious attempt to shut down a public discussion about the safety of DPFs and their link to devastating truck and bus fires throughout the state, thus allowing CARB to continue its reckless regulations unimpeded and without any real public oversight.
In a September 18, 2015 hearing before the Hon. Judge Peter Twede on its motion to dismiss the case, CARB argued that truck owners have the right to challenge the safety of the DPF device through CARB-hosted administrative procedures — thereby supposedly eliminating the need for the present court action by the Alliance. However, this ignores two fundamental problems: 1) that the DPF device affects not just truck and bus owners, but all bystanders, property owners, and members of the public who may be harmed by an explosive truck fire, brush fire caused by sparks emitted from a truck’s tailpipe, or bus fire with kids and families on board; and 2) that Alliance’s only legal avenue to challenge the DPF requirement as an organization is through this court appearance. Despite being confronted with these facts, though, CARB maintained its position that only truck owners may challenge the safety of the DPF device – thus revealing that the public has effectively NO RECOURSE when it comes to challenging the safety of these devices.
Furthermore, even truck owners – those who supposedly do have the right to challenge DPF safety – have few options. In fact, their only option (apart from seeking a remedy through the present lawsuit) is to apply for an extension from the DPF requirement and to navigate CARB’s arduous administrative procedure where the individual truck owner must present his own evidence and CARB is judge and jury. Thus, an exemption from the DPF requirement is not even possible.
For the past two years or so, the Alliance has gathered evidence on the safety of the DPF device, and the results have been alarming. Evidence suggests that DPF devices are linked to multiple devastating truck and bus fires in recent years, posing a risk to not only truck and bus operators, but also to those in close proximity to such vehicles, as well as to the general public. In many cases, these fires have resulted in the total destruction of the vehicle, making an evaluation beyond the resources of any individual truck driver or even the Alliance. One commonality among many of these fires, though, is that they involved trucks/buses with DPF filters installed on them, and the fires were initiated in the engine compartment and then quickly spread to the passenger and cargo area (often in a matter of minutes).
Meanwhile, CARB has been left completely unaccountable. In public, CARB professes that truck and bus fires have been investigated, and that they have expertise with DPF technology. However, depositions of key CARB executive staff members have revealed this not to be the case. Even basic information about DPF technology eludes them, and their knowledge of their own internal procedures is inconsistent at best. That is why the public must act now – CARB must be held accountable, particularly when they provide little to no recourse for people to challenge the safety of DPFs and when they refuse to conduct a sufficient investigation where legitimate safety concerns have been raised. We cannot wait for tragedy to strike. This is not just about regulating trucks and buses – this is about the safety of all California citizens, especially other cars on the road and property owners who are directly exposed to this problem. CARB wants to shut this case down once and for all, before the tides of public opinion turn against them. The public cannot let that happen and should demand that CARB commission an independent third-party study with peer review, so that California citizens can be provided with a safe and environmentally clean technology that does not endanger us all.
At the September 18th hearing, Judge Twede stated that he is allowing the parties to submit further briefing to the court on the issue of whether CARB’s delay in bringing the administrative remedy issue to the court presents a defect in their motion to dismiss the case. So the parties are going to give the court additional briefing and will return to court on DECEMBER 4, 2015 at 1:00 p.m., at the Glenn County Courthouse located at 821 E. South Street, Orland, California. We urge the public to voice their support and concerns regarding this important issue, before it is too late.