Air regulators modify rules on diesel trucks

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By Kate Campbell

An AgAlert article

Truck owners working to meet state deadlines for replacing or installing emissionsTriple R Diesel Truck 4_medium control equipment on their diesel vehicles have been granted compliance relief. The state Air Resources Board detailed regulatory changes last week that recognize “good faith” efforts to meet the Jan. 1 compliance deadline.

The agency said it’s implementing some flexible compliance options to provide more time for many fleets to install particulate matter (PM) filters. The regulation requires diesel truck and bus owners to take steps to reduce their engine emissions as part of a state plan to meet federal air quality standards.

“For growers who use diesel trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 14,000 pounds or more, this regulatory change could provide some breathing room,” said Cynthia Cory, California Farm Bureau Federation environmental affairs director. “But this is a time-limited opportunity that will require folks to take action before Jan. 31, 2014, to take advantage of these new options.”

Although many heavier 1996-2006 engine model year trucks and buses are required to have particulate matter filters by Jan. 1, certain agricultural and low-use vehicles, as well as vehicles that operate in specific counties, already had been granted compliance extensions under the regulation’s flexibility options.

ARB proposed further expansion of these flexibility options to include increasing low-use vehicle thresholds, adding new opt-in opportunities, expanding regions that are “NOx exempt” and providing more time in some areas to meet compliance requirements.

Cory noted the ARB will hold a series of public workshops to provide more information about the proposed amendments to the In-Use On-Road Heavy Duty Diesel-Fueled Vehicle Regulation. At the workshops, vehicle owners will have an opportunity to comment on proposed changes; see workshop times and locations below.

“The workshops will allow vehicle owners affected by the rule to evaluate proposed amendments and suggest modifications to regulatory approaches for meeting emission reduction requirements,” she said.

Cory recommended that truck owners print the 2014 reporting form and bookmark the link on their computers: www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onrdiesel/documents/reportonpaper.pdf.

“The most important fact to know is this reopening of the reporting for ag trucks and any of the other options—log truck phase-in, low mileage construction, NOx exempt, etc.—closes on Jan. 31, 2014. That gives us a very short window to register trucks and achieve compliance,” she stressed.

ARB staff said it plans to present the regulatory amendments for board approval at a meeting next April. Meanwhile, the board directed staff to allow fleets to take advantage of planned regulatory changes before they are voted on by the board.

“These changes will help businesses meet the cleanup requirements in a way that will not compromise the health benefits or the emissions reductions this vitally important regulation will achieve during its lifetime,” ARB executive officer Richard Corey said.

Counties and areas proposed to be defined as NOx exempt include Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Inyo, eastern Kern, Mariposa, Mono, Nevada, eastern Riverside, northeastern San Bernardino, eastern Solano, Sutter, Tuolumne and Yolo.

Trucks included in reports to ARB must have been owned by Jan. 1, 2009. Trucks bought after that date cannot fall under the AG mileage threshold provision.

In 2000, the ARB adopted its Diesel Risk Reduction Plan aimed at reducing diesel emissions from all sources, including trucks used in agriculture, urban buses, construction equipment, port trucks and fuels. The Truck and Bus Regulation was adopted in 2008. In 2010, it was amended to provide economic relief to truck owners affected by the recession, particularly small fleets, by delaying initial compliance requirements for one year and extending the time a truck could be operated before requiring replacement.

Of 260,000 diesel trucks registered in California that need a soot filter, the ARB said, about 140,000 already comply, with owners of about 100,000 using regulatory flexibility to delay the compliance date. For small fleets—three or fewer vehicles—the Jan. 1 deadline would have been the first time at least one vehicle in each fleet would have needed to comply with soot-filter requirements.

For small fleets, the ARB said the Jan. 1 deadline is a “critical compliance milestone.” ARB estimated about 15,000 vehicles in small fleets still need to retrofit or upgrade equipment to meet the deadline.

Information about regulatory requirements and modifications is available at www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/truckstop/truckstop.htm. Questions may be emailed to 866Diesel@arb.ca.gov.

A series of public workshops will be held to discuss proposed amendments to the In-Use On-Road Heavy-Duty Diesel-Fueled Vehicle regulation, which requires emissions controls for heavy-duty vehicles.

The potential changes include increasing low-use vehicle thresholds, allowing owners to opt into flexibility provisions and expanding “NOx emempt” regions.

 Workshops will be held on the following dates and locations:

Dec. 3, Diamond Bar, 10 a.m., South Coast Air Quality Management District, 21865 Copely Dr.

Dec. 4, Sacramento, 10 a.m., Air Resources Board, 1001 I St.

Dec. 5, Redding, 10 a.m., Redding City Council Chambers, 777 Cypress Ave.

Dec. 10, San Diego, 1 p.m., Chula Vista Public Library, 365 F St.

Dec. 12 Fresno, 10 a.m., San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, 1990 E. Gettysburg Ave.

The public may also attend the Fresno workshop by video conference at the air district’s Bakersfield and Modesto offices: Bakersfield, 34946 Flyover Court, and Modesto, 4800 Enterprise Way.