On July 10 the Air Resources Board (ARB) released information about its revised draft regulation that will require retrofits and engine replacements on diesel-powered trucks and buses traversing California roadways beginning in 2012.  In contrast to the January, 2008 proposal to have fleets replace trucks twice in a nine-year span, the revised proposal will heavily rely on retrofitting during the first two years and will thereafter require only one truck replacement over eleven years.  This revised proposal will preserve important public health benefits at a lower cost.

The goal of the proposed regulation is for all diesel-fueled vehicles to be the cleanest, 2010 or newer models.  Vehicles covered include those with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating greater than 14,000 pounds and diesel shuttle buses of any weight.  The regulation will apply to all covered vehicles operating in California regardless of where the vehicle is registered.  Motor homes for private use, military tactical vehicles and emergency vehicles are exempted from the regulation.

The revised regulation calls for fleets of four or more trucks to retrofit pre-2007 model year vehicles with soot filters in 2010 and 2011; small fleets, with one to three vehicles, will be exempt from this requirement.  Vehicles will then be gradually modernized from 2012 to 2022.  During this eleven-year period small fleets will be required to meet more relaxed standards.  The revised regulation also creates greater flexibility for fleets by adding a third compliance option: now fleets will be able to comply by purchasing used vehicles.

The revised proposed regulation expands low use provisions to delay replacement for trucks and buses that operate less than 5,000 miles and 175 hours per year.  The regulation also creates new special provisions for certain specialty farm vehicles and two-engine cranes.

Between 2010 and 2020, the regulation is projected to cost the trucking industry between $3.6 and $5.5 billion.  However, the changes from the January 2008 proposal result in an estimated decrease of $1 billion in costs.  Moreover, the ARB estimates it will add less than a penny to each product hauled by the trucks.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s revised May budget allocated $48 million to the ARB to help low income truckers comply with the regulations if passed. This goes along with the nearly $1 billion of Proposition B funding to help with the engine retrofits and replacements.  The funds will also be used to add side skirts and wider tires. This helps to lessen aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance of trailers, which saves fuel and in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

After further workshops and modifications, the regulation and a staff report detailing its rationale will be released for formal public comment in early September.  The ARB will then consider the latest draft of the proposed regulation in October 2008.  Later this year the ARB is also considering adopting another proposed regulation to reduce diesel fuel soot from ocean-going vessels main engines.

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