Truck Owners Respond to CARB’s Reprieve of Diesel Filter Requirement
By January 1, 2014, most heavy-duty trucks operating in the state will be required to have a diesel particulate filter (DPF). At the October 24, 2013 California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) meeting, members of the Alliance for California Business and others in the trucking industry told CARB that thousands of trucks have not yet complied and won’t be able to meet the deadline. The truck owners told CARB that the DPF is a technically flawed device that causes constant repair problems and resulting delays in shipments. It places truck drivers and the general public at risk of fires and other truck related accidents. The DPF is designed to reduce diesel particulate matter but it leaves a giant carbon footprint on the state when it malfunctions or damages trucks – which is often. Small businesses and agriculture are most immediately impacted, but the effect of the DPF requirement will be felt throughout the state, as businesses absorb the financial impact by raising prices or reducing service to rural areas.
None of this was news to trucking industry, but for the first time it appears that someone on the Board finally listened. On November 14, 2013, CARB announced that it would give some truck owners more time to comply with the Truck and Bus Regulation. Trucking owners or companies must show “good faith compliance,” by doing one of the following by January 1, 2014: (1) enter into an agreement to buy and install a DPF; (2) sign a purchase contract and order a replacement truck equipped with a DPF; or (3) show that they were approved or denied a loan or other financing for a retrofit DPF or replacement truck equipped with a DPF. Alternatively, the truck owner could register the truck as one that stays exclusively within a designated low NOx county or drives less than 5000 miles per year.
Alliance for California Business’s president, Bud Caldwell, agrees that these are all steps in the right direction, but the deferment of just one year and these limited exemptions are not going to fix this problem. “First of all, thousands of truck owners will still have to adopt the seriously flawed DPF technology in order to meet the original deadline because they do not fit within these exemptions. And, says Mr. Caldwell “it’s not the small number predicted by CARB. CARB’s statistics on the number of trucks that still need to be upgraded appear to be numbers pulled out of a hat, and do not consider the trucks coming into the state.”
Second, CARB’s regulatory objective remains steadfast: that all California trucks and those trucks that come into the state must be equipped with a DPF. Again, Mr. Caldwell: “The Alliance for California Business brought its lawsuit to require CARB to put an end to a program that by design will require truck owners fit their trucks with a dangerous and mechanically defective DPF device, and by doing so causes more harm to the environment than it cures. So, CARB’s newest advisory is just a first step. Now, CARB has to examine the real facts about the DPF and stop this regulatory debacle before it does still more harm to California’s environment and economy.”