With the global recession pummeling truck traffic, the California Air Resources Board will give motor carriers in the state more flexibility in complying with standards designed to reduce diesel pollution.
While CARB’s actions should provide relief to over-the-road truckers, strict emission standards affecting truckers serving the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland will not be affected.
After a public hearing Wednesday on California’s Truck and Bus Rule, CARB directed its staff to return in April with a new provision that would provide truck fleets more flexibility in reducing harmful diesel emissions.
The rule as passed last year requires truck owners to begin phasing in installation of diesel exhaust filters on their rigs by Jan. 1, 2011. Nearly all heavy-duty trucks operating in California will have to be upgraded by 2014.
Two developments spurred CARB to rethink the rule. First, traffic volume in the state is down because of the recession. “The economy has reduced the amount of time trucks have operated, thus reducing harmful diesel emissions that would have occurred during normal economic times,” CARB stated.
The board also revealed recently that one of the authors of a study on the impact of diesel emissions on health lied about having a Ph.D in statistics from the University of California-Davis.
CARB Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols said the agency would use the next few months to revalidate the findings in the study. “We take the employee misconduct very seriously, but it should not affect an extremely important public health measure that has been extensively reviewed throughout the scientific community,” Nichols said.
CARB’s action will not affect the agency’s rules affecting truckers hauling containers to and from the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. CARB’s drayage truck rules, which apply to ports and railyards, require a phased retirement of old, polluting trucks. The drayage rules will take effect at the end of this month as scheduled.
Los Angeles and Long Beach have clean-trucks programs that took effect in October 2008. Implementation of those requirements is well under way and will have resulted in the introduction of about 8,000 compliant trucks by early 2010.
Oakland’s clean-trucks program is patterned after CARB’s drayage truck rules and Oakland’s program will be implemented on Jan. 1 as planned.