ARB Publishes Latest Draft of New Regulations for In-Use Heavy-Duty Trucks

Jose Michael

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) published for public comment its latest draft version of a new regulation that, if adopted at the Board’s 11 December hearing, will further reduce emissions from the approximately one million in-use heavy-duty diesel trucks that operate in California beginning in 2010. (Earlier post.)

The regulation, which originates from the board’s diesel program, is targeted at further reductions in NOx and PM emissions, and will require truck owners to install diesel PM filters on their rigs starting in 2010, with nearly all vehicles upgraded by 2014. Owners must also turn over engines older than the 2010 equivalent to cleaner engines according to a staggered implementation schedule between 2012 and 2022.

A second regulation, which is part of the AB 32 Climate Change Proposed Scoping Plan (earlier post), requires that long haul truckers install fuel-efficient tires and aerodynamic devices on their trailers that lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy.

NOx and PM. The proposed new regulation would apply to any person, business, or federal government agency that owns or operates affected vehicles in California. Affected vehicles include heavy-duty diesel-fueled vehicles with a GVWR greater than 14,000 pounds; yard trucks with off-road certified engines; and diesel-fueled shuttle vehicles of any GVWR that have a capacity of 10 or more passengers and routinely drive an average of 10 trips per day to or from airport terminals, marine terminals, and rail based stations.

Drayage trucks and utility-owned vehicles would be subject to the regulation beginning 1 January 2021. The proposed regulation would be applicable regardless of where the vehicle is registered.

In general, the regulation would require owners to reduce PM and NOx emissions from their fleet by upgrading the vehicles to meet BACT (Best Available Commercial Technology) standards for PM and NOx. The BACT standard for PM is an engine equipped with the highest level verified emission control device for PM or an engine originally equipped with a diesel particulate filter by the engine manufacturer. The BACT standard for NOx is an engine newly manufactured in 2010 or later or a 2010 emissions equivalent engine.

A fleet may meet these performance requirements by retrofitting a vehicle with a verified device that will achieve PM or NOx reductions or both as required, replacing an engine with a newer cleaner one, or replacing a vehicle with one having a cleaner engine.

There are exceptions to the regulation, including low-use vehicles, emergency and military tactical vehicles, and personal-use motor homes. School buses would be subject only to requirements for reducing diesel particulate matter and not for engine replacement.

The state is offering truck owners more than a billion dollars in funding opportunities to help with the cost of the proposed diesel rule. Funding options include Carl Moyer grants, which are designated for early or surplus compliance with diesel regulations; Proposition 1B funds, for air quality improvements related to goods movement; and AB 118, which establishes a low-cost truck loan program to help pay for early compliance with the truck rule.

To better assist truckers, ARB is evaluating ways to integrate these programs so that truckers can get a grant and a loan at the same time, minimizing paperwork and significantly reducing the monthly payments for a new truck loan.

Diesel emissions are toxic, associated with cancer, and can also exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory ailments. The truck NOx/PM regulation is expected to save 9,400 lives between 2010 and 2025, and greatly reduce health care costs. These benefits have a value of $48 to $69 billion. The cost of installing the trailer greenhouse-gas-reducing technologies will be quickly paid back through lower fuel use.

Without this regulation, ARB said, California will not be able to meet US EPA-mandated air quality standards and deadlines, and could subsequently lose billions of dollars in federal highway funding.

Heavy-duty big rigs are the largest remaining source of unregulated diesel emissions in California, responsible for 32% of the smog-forming emissions and nearly 40% of the cancer-causing emissions from diesel mobile sources (other diesel emitters include trains, off-road vehicles and marine engines). The rules are expected to impact more than 400,000 trucks registered in the state, as well as about 500,000 out-of-state vehicles that do business in California, and over a half million trailers.

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