Tuesday, July 19, 2016


What the Truck?

Major developments in On-Road Truck and Bus Rule, Sustainable Freight and Mobile Source control in the South Coast
So far, 2016 has been a tumultuous year in the world of air quality here in the Golden State. Although within the past few weeks most mainstream air quality news tidbits have been related to the lack of cap and trade activity, the transportation sector is facing the perfect storm.
Strict new engine standards, facility caps and a potential zero emission last mile rule are all part of a larger complex web that is weaving the future for transportation here in the Golden State. It is no secret that California has the strictest regulatory standards for the trucking industry across the US. What may or may not be of a surprise is that the state of California is far from writing the final chapter on their air quality saga. While many believe that what happens in California stays in California, a closer analysis will demonstrate that what happens in California eventually makes its way across the US.

Within the larger universe of both the California and local air quality planning documents is a major reliance on a lower federal NOx new engine standard to meet air future federal air quality goals across the state. It is no secret that if the feds don’t act in implementing the lower standard, then California will seek an exemption to set their own standards with several other states possibly opting in under section 177 of the Clean Air Act. Although some have backed out, over a dozen states could also require the sale of the California engine if California receives the exemption.
However, according to CARB, a California only standard may not be enough. A federal standard is preferred since the majority of trucks operating in California are from out of state. The state and districts feel that a new engine standard will eventually be implemented by fleets across the country through normal turnover, thus resulting in the needed reductions as the engines trickle into California operation.  Furthermore, according to the state, the Federal standard is needed despite the major reductions achieved by current in-use rules, including the crown jewel of the on-road regulatory lexicon, the on-road truck and bus rule.
The on-road rule was initially adopted in 2008, changed in 2010 and implemented in 2012 as part of an effort to reduce criteria pollutants to meet federal air quality guidelines. The rule has forced the turnover of thousands of pieces of Heavy Duty equipment over the last 4 years. These efforts have resulted in significant improvements to air quality throughout the state but ironically enough may also be to blame for the slow adoption of the cleanest diesel technology available, the 2010 emissions and Phase I GHG standards.   

Despite the California only in-use standards under the truck and bus rule, when compared to other states, the in-state California fleet lags far behind in the deployment of the cleanest existing diesel technology. According to the Diesel Technology Forum, only 18% of the California fleet has 2010 or newer engines.
Speculation abounds that the on-road rule may have been the reason for this slow adoption since fleets have been focusing on interim targets instead of looking at normal turnover. The thought is that normal turnover may have resulted in greater penetration of 2010 engine technology since fleets would not be forced to install particulate traps on existing equipment and could instead retire and replace with newer technology.
Nevertheless, CARB could not rely on natural turnover to meet air quality standards, so back in 2008 a rule was imminent. Today, according to CARB, despite the on-road reductions, a federal engine standard is needed to meet the air quality goals were shooting for with implementation of the on-road rule. And adding even more irony to the fire, during their relentless pursuit of federal attainment since adoption in 2008, CARB, by their own admission, has been directly responsible for an actual increase in on-road emissions because of a rule modification that took place in 2014.

Although the complex exemption and phase in pathways provided relief for those who took advantage under the rule prior to the 2014 amendments, the strict standards were “unattainable” for small fleets and so a set of amendments that loosened the rule for this particular sector and others was adopted in 2014.
While CARB was playing the Good Samaritan in helping small fleets with the 2014 amendments, larger fleets felt they were left holding the bag while their smaller and non-asset competitors were given a free pass. Subsequently, a lawsuit was filed shortly after the amendments were adopted and on June 7th 2016, a superior court in Fresno ruled the 2014 amendments were invalid since proper administrative procedures were not adhered to during consideration, adoption and eventual implementation.
Although all amendments were essentially thrown out by the ruling, what this means is CARB will appeal and file for an injunction pushing a final resolution out months if not years. The regulation will exist in its current form until further notice, so although a major event in the CARB zeitgeist, it is not impacting the immediate future for the majority of the industry.
What is impacting the immediate future of the industry in addition to the potentially lower federal engine standards is a collaborative effort by CARB and several other executive agencies to fulfill the Governor’s low carbon vision for transportation trough a sustainable freight plan. The plan has been laid out on a document that to say the least is a comprehensive vision for a lower emission future, if not at a minimum, a wish list. The document is setting specific targets for the trucking industry and looking towards a future where zero emission equipment is everywhere feasible and near zero emission engines everywhere else.


Simultaneously, the South Coast has released a mobile source plan that amounts to an outline for a massive facility cap program across the southern California region. Although the South Coast plan is being ridiculed by environmentalists as business friendly, it still amounts to stricter control of emissions from otherwise currently unregulated “magnet sources” like warehouses and other transportation facilities such as ports and railyards where trucks operate. The plan also looks toward federal money to incentivize the turnover to ultra-low NOx near zero engines, but the money isn’t there yet and many wonder if it will ever be.
The two plans taken together and combined with a formal request to the feds for an even cleaner engine standard should leave the transportation sector with California much to ponder staring in the face of these tumultuous seas. And despite the potential fallout from a significant rule change back to the 2012 standards should CARB lose in court (again) nothing is standing in the way of more air quality improvement measures, compulsory, incentivized or otherwise.

Stay Tuned!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Cold as Ice 
CARB Throws Down Gauntlet on Cold Storage
2020 isn’t that far away. It looms only a mere 3 years and 5+ months as the world turns. Many, many things can happen between now and then and without going into detail, I think the picture is there. Life’s uncertainties sometimes drive intentions.  In the world of air quality, regulatory agencies use their best intentions when planning control measures, but oftentimes they are merely throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

The latest effort of the CARB regulatory leviathan is part of a larger sustainable freight plan that was introduced in 2014 and is set to be re-introduced, new and improved, this summer. The Sustainable Freight Initiative (SFI) is looking for emissions reductions across the transportation network and as of today, one segment of the supply chain, the refrigerated transport sector, is first up on the chopping block, again.
This isn’t the first time at the dance for refrigerated trailers and their cold blooded counterparts. First it was the engines, now this time around, it’s how and where those refrigerated engines are operating when not on the road.

It is obvious that refrigerated trailers are used for transport over the open highway and down the street, but maybe not so obvious is that they can also be used for stationary storage when there is no available cold space under roof or behind doors, hence, “cold storage”. The engines run, the trailer stays put and the stuff stays cold.

Since the engines in this situation are stationary while running to maintain temperature sensitive cargo awaiting transport or consumption, CARB sees an opportunity to get off the diesel and plug into the grid, thereby reducing thousands of tons of CO2e in the atmosphere. In order to hasten this transition to the electric future, CARB has begun the grinding process of regulatory development, starting with outreach which will be followed by reflection on their outreach.
The initial offering from CARB on the cold storage rule proposes a 2020 start date for a long list of potential covered entities. Truck stops, rest stops, grocery outlets, county fairs and of course the all-encompassing category of “other” are all up for a potential control measure that will limit and eventually eliminate, cold storage time.

And like it or not, whether we know it or not, one way or another, everyone relies on cold storage.
All perishable food and medicine is transported in a truck equipped with a refrigerated unit of some kind, truck box or trailer. While ice cream and strawberries may be at the top of many lists, the refer transport industry also moves highly sensitive explosives, lifesaving pharmaceuticals and pretty much every perishable item out there.  

Oftentimes, trailers are used during peak operation time to store temperature sensitive items out in the yard when facilities run out of cold storage space behind the doors. This is commonplace amongst grocery stores and distributors during thanksgiving, the super bowl or whenever they run out of space for anything that needs to be kept cool. It also may happen at distribution centers or ports or railyards, where refer units must sit and wait if they do not have a place to unload. Or at outdoor events like state or county fairs, festivals and the like.
While no formal details exist, previously a staggered ban on cold storage was proposed where the first limit was at 24 hours, then 1 hour then basically nada. But it was slated for initial implementation in 2023, the latest info from CARB today is looking at the 2020 timeframe for initial implementation and no proposal for a staggered phase in.  

Basically, all of this is leading up to the elimination of the diesel engine for cold storage in California. While CARB will be also be looking at efficiency improvements to eliminate cold storage, they are seriously leaning heavy on plug in or some non-diesel based technology to reduce CO2 emissions from the sector.  
With a potential three year window before initial implementation, CARB will have their work cut out for them. No one really has a firm grip on how much cold storage is happening out there so in order to grasp at one CARB will be sending out a survey or possibly a number of surveys. 

The agency wants to get an idea of how much time trailers spend idling for cold storage and where it is happening. This will give them an idea about how far they need to go to regulate the practice and more importantly, what infrastructure needs are out there.  Costs range from five to seven thousand dollars per plug, either pedestal or on-dock.  So, it can get expensive. Not to mention peak energy costs when pulling off the grid during certain times. The list of potential challenges does not end there.

Food safety and availability of universal plug-in infrastructure for electric refer trailers or eTRU’s are a major concern, near the top of the list in fact. Then again, pretty much everything is at the top of the list. For instance, FMCSA Hours of Service rules may force truckers off the road for mandated rest periods and without a pedestal or something to plug into, there will be no choice but to run the diesel engine if there is even a diesel engine to run.

Additionally, since truck parking is a major issue in this state, there is concern that the existing truck parking network will need to be reconfigured to allow for plug-in infrastructure which may result in a loss of available spaces. At a minimum it will require a major cash outlay on behalf of the facility operator at the other end of the spectrum it may put facilities out of business.

Equally as concerning is how distribution centers will need to reconfigure in order to provide idling trailers something to plug into when waiting for an open dock. And adding even more salt into the frozen margarita of refer operation is the fact that most existing refer engines DO NOT have the capability of being retrofitted to run on electric standby. For the equipment operator, that means they need a new engine that can run on electric standby after possibly just purchasing a Tier IV final engine to comply with the TRU rule that didn’t come equipped with electric standby in the first place.


Of course the icing on the cake is the fact that with these type of rules, typically CARB figures that if you are going to buy a new engine anyways, why not get the best available technology? That best available technology in their minds may in fact be an electric or cryogenic or cold fusion or hydrogen or whatever engine, as long as it’s available and it is not diesel.

Once the SFI is released we should get a bigger picture on how this cold storage piece fits into the whole freight emissions enchilada. Until then the cold storage rule will go through the regulatory outreach process with workshops and of course, you guessed it…. surveys. If you want to know more visit www.cafleetsoltuions.com.

STAY TUNED!


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Truck This?
Statewide Rules go Beyond Local Politics

For better or worse, some folks in the transportation industry have mused that the recent SCAQMD developments will somehow translate into abandonment or loosening of existing rules in the on-road trucking sector.

Since the Republicans sitting on the SCAQMD Board have made jobs a priority, it is only natural to assume that one of the largest employment sectors in the state (transportation/logistics) would also feel some of the relief.

Not so. In fact, the real outcome may be a state sponsored tightening down on an already heavily regulated industry.

Outside of threats to expand the Board through legislation, the basic bottom line is that for the most part, the State and the state alone has jurisdiction over mobile sources of emissions.

California is not about to start loosening up rules that are directly in line with achieving NAAQS.

Beyond federal responsibilities, the state has specifically targeted the transportation industry for reductions and the governor has made no secret of his desire to run emissions from the freight sector off the highway.

Last year an Executive Order was issued calling for the shift of the freight network to zero or near zero emissions while increasing the competitiveness of the industry.


"Governor Brown issued Executive Order (EO) B-32-15 which directs the California State Transportation, California Environmental Protection, and Natural Resources Agencies to lead other relevant State departments, including the California Air Resources Board, the California Department of Transportation, the California Energy Commission, and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, to improve freight efficiency, transition to zero-emission technologies, and increase competitiveness of California’s freight system through an integrated freight action plan and pilot projects”


Along with the emission mandates, the governor wants to see efficiency mandates and other creative endeavors to save the freight network from itself (SEE Government Efficiency ) all the while increasing industry competitiveness.

A multitude of state agencies have been tapped to develop this freight strategy. It is slated to be re-released this summer under the banner of the new and improved Sustainable Freight Initiative. Both the Sustainable Freight Initiative (SFI) and the mobile source strategy in the statewide SIP will both have specific regulatory measures focused on the trucking industry and the larger transportation network. Efforts are already underway to implement concepts put forth last year.

Within the previous incarnation of the SFI was an initial action aimed at cold storage and the facilities where off dock, cold storage is happening. This rule development will directly impact refrigerated facilities that utilize refrigerated trailers for off dock cold storage during peak operating times.

CARB has already started outreach for the rule and although the concept had been on ice for a few years leading up to the previous draft, it is now officially one of the first regulatory measures that will be part of the SFI.

The question persists? Are these recent efforts baby steps into a larger control of emissions under a potential facility cap (SEE Facility Cap )? While no new details have emerged, the concept is alive and well. The SFI, due this summer will decide its fate. For now.

Regardless of the facility cap’s ultimate fate, CARB is seeking to send a strong signal with the development of the cold storage rule and the eventual release of the SFI as well as the mobile source strategy within the statewide SIP that they will not be backing off from their plans, despite local developments. 


STAY TUNED!




Friday, March 25, 2016

NOx and NAAQs and SIPs, Oh My!


Shift in local air board politics brings state into the fold on localized risks


For anyone who is remotely interested in southern California’s Air Quality, these past couple weeks have been chalk full of major developments that may or may not sit well depending on which side of the smokestack you are on.

Late last year, the SCAQMD Board adopted a less stringent NOx standard for stationary sources within the District. Since then, many have mused that jobs and the economy in southern California can now breathe a sigh of relief; the local economy was finally being considered in future air quality planning efforts.

In February, keeping with the importance of the southern California economy, the newly minted republican majority sitting on the AQMD Board removed a hurdle to their redirected efforts when they unceremoniously sacked long time Executive Director of SCAQMD, Dr. Barry Wallerstein.

Despite criticism, opposition and litigation, the Board has maintained their stance and the removal of Dr. Wallerstein is a blatant indication that things will be different in the South Coast. The firing was immediately met with the threat of expanding the Board with community, health and environmental representatives through state legislation, but, until such a bill comes to pass, we can expect more of the same from those on the Board. For now.

On the flip side of the political shift are legal commitments to maintaining national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) or at least endeavoring to get there with the utmost haste. Just last week,  the EPA described the existing SCAQMD NOx plan for stationary sources as “ineffective” as it is  not achieving the needed reductions due to an “artificially low” price for credits in the local cap and trade program.  While the EPA has brought the existing plan into question, CARB has publically stated that the recent amendments to the existing plan adopted last year “falls short” of the needed reductions to meet NAAQS.

The SCAQMD responded to EPA by claiming that the recent amendments adopted in December would address the insufficient reductions in the existing plan once when they were submitted as part of the larger Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) that is due later this summer.

The question does persist, how will the amendments that are described as falling short by CARB, help fix a plan that itself has been deemed by EPA as falling short ?

The state will be hard pressed to approve any plan that doesn't measure up to federal guidelines, especially since CARB is ultimately accountable to the EPA. The mounting drama should all be coming to a head this summer when the South Coast AQMP and the statewide SIP are released.

STAY TUNED!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dressing Down, "Dress for Less"

Major California Retailer Cited for CARB Rule Violations
Ross Stores Inc., a Dublin, California based retailer was fined close to$39,000 for failing to confirm that companies they used to move merchandise met CARB Truck and Bus rule standards.

This is important for anyone moving anything by truck in or out of California. It represents a blatantly clear warning that CARB will go after cargo owners if they are arranging for transport and not verifying CARB compliance status.
This particular fine was  $38,250; made up in part of a fine of $750 for each of the 31 companies the company contracted with but did not verify compliance and $7500 for each company that did not meet CARB standards regardless of reported status.

Considering CARB could push their regulatory authority to cite on a daily basis or possibly a month to month fine for these BCO type entities, in this case, they did not. Legally, CARB’s authority allows for citations up to $10,000 for each day a fleet or covered entity is out of compliance.

Of course, $10,000 per day is a relatively harsh citation for a trucking firm, cargo owner, retailer or otherwise, but of course, anything is possible; the fine structure will always depend on severity.
What should be of interest to anyone who is shipping anything into or out of California is that Ross Stores Inc. was cited for not only contracting with non-compliant carriers, but they were also cited for merely not verifying that their trucking firms had even registered with CARB at all.
31 out of the 33 carriers Ross Stores Inc. contracted with were in compliance, the issue is that Ross Stores Inc. never confirmed carrier compliance status. Since most of their carriers met the standards, Ross Stores Inc. received the lower end of the citation matrix after carrier compliance was established. Nonetheless, a citation was still levied.
Although the Ross citation is probably not going to raise prices at the “dress for less” super chain, those carriers who were non-compliant are no longer hauling in California for Ross Stores Inc.

In the settlement agreement with CARB, Ross Stores Inc. agreed to CONFIRM that each company they contract with meets the CARB standards. No grace period, no phase in. No nada. 
The link to the settlement summary can be found below; this is not the first and it will certainly not be the last.

So, if you or someone you love is operating in California, be sure to remind them that CARB is not just some four letter word that isn’t worth its weight in particulate matter. They are out there… and when they find you, they WILL fine you.
Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hog Wild

Community Drives Additional Controls for Heavy Duty Vehicles

No one likes dirty air. Its exposure knows no boundary. In California, the venerable Air Resources Board (CARB) has used study after study linking diesel particulate matter exposure to negative health impacts to justify strict in-use rules. Other states have opted into new engine standards that are identical to California, but outside of two port complexes, California remains the lone island for in use diesel regulations.
The ports of Seattle and Tacoma (SeaTac) have truck standards that are slated to go into effect at the end of 2017. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are also looking at an imminent truck implementation standard for the end of 2016. However, it has been reported that their implementation date was delayed by one year after numerous trucking firms voiced concern over their ability to meet the standards.
The NY/NJ and the SeaTac standards are identical to the CARB standards that have been in effect for California ports and intermodal railyards since 2014. Currently, the NY/NJ plan calls for trucks to meet 2007 model year engine standards as of January 1, 2017.
Although this date has not changed in their paperwork, there is currently discussion of different relief options which may in fact include a delay.

One popular mechanism to assist in truck turnover are grants or other incentives. While California is the granddaddy for all grant programs related to heavy duty trucks, some other states as well as the federal government offer truck replacement or retrofit grants to end users.
Both SETAC and NY/NJ offer truck replacement grants, as do the Ports of Virginia, Baltimore, Delaware and a handful of others. While most programs are specific to ports, other state programs seek municipal replacements or focus on natural gas engines. Diesel to diesel replacement options are out there but are limited. Really, only California and Texas have offered sizable grant amounts for diesel to diesel replacement.
For better or worse, most grant programs are starting a shift towards alternative fuel or hybrid platforms. Which may be a prelude to future mandates for non-diesel platforms in California and beyond. Of course, only California really has the regulatory muscle to force turnover of entire industries under clean air act mandates from the Federal government.
Nonetheless, other parts of the country haven’t quite jumped on the truck turnover-wagon just yet. The closest came when Oregon legislature considered giving their EPA authority to pass CARB like standards. But, due to its controversial nature and lack of support, the issue has so far been shelved for future discussion.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country will be looking at a lower ambient Ozone standard that will be implemented over the next few years once the lawsuits settle down. Its existence, which in and of itself may still not be enough to force states to look at the heavy duty trucking industry, will still need to be addressed by several states, with or without looking to truck turnover rules.
Nevertheless, states and municipalities may have other tools at their disposal to deal with emissions from heavy duty truck operation. If a constituency raises concerns over excess emissions from facilities near their homes or schools, it is just a matter of time before someone reacts.  
In Louisville, Kentucky, a Hog processing plant found itself on the receiving end of some zoning standards that required installation of CARB compliant engines on refrigerated trailers. A neighborhood association convinced a local zoning body to impose refer engine standards after the local APCD failed to act. The Louisville Board of Zoning Adjustment, with consent of the property owner, imposed the requirement with air district approval. Only new engines will be allowed to operate on the property.
This may be a harbinger for CARB like rules, even stricter than existing regulations for specific facilities across the country. Well, maybe not everywhere. But, it may encourage local groups to push harder on local elected officials to change zoning laws if a facility is an emissions nuisance. In the case of the hog plant, the facility manager agreed in order to maintain their good neighbor policy, but other facility operators may not be so willing to bend. Of course time will tell.
Stay Tuned!

Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 CARB Compliance Continues
CARB Rules Ratcheting Down

All California fleets with active heavy duty vehicles over 26,000 pounds GVWR must operate retrofitted or OEM emissions controlled equipment or must have registered with CARB for an exemption.  Any truck 26,000 GVWR or below equipped with a 1996 or earlier engine is also out of compliance.

This is old hat to many fleets operating in California, the on-road rules have been in effect since 2012 and still have another 7 years before all control measures are fully implemented.   There is concern within the industry that CARB is not done and many fear that strict GHG focused standards will rear their ugly head in particular sectors. While we will see what the future will hold, today, not only must heavy duty trucks meet the 100% control standards, but 53’ or greater box type trailers will need to have aero dynamic control measures installed.  In order to avoid the standards they will need to register with CARB for an exemption if they qualify.  The GHG tractor trailer regulation is the second major phase for CARB rules governing emissions from HDD vehicles. 

Many have put the trailer requirements off specifically because CARB was not enforcing the rule. Despite the fact that the standards required full compliance by 2013 for any trailer older than 2011, not a single published enforcement settlement contains violations for the rule.  2011 or newer trailers needed to be SmartWay certified as of 2010. So that is potentially 6 years of retroactive fines that may potentially be levied against fleets. Tractors also need a SmartWay certification if they are model year 2011-2013. 2010 and older tractors and trailers need to have had tires installed by 2013. Sound familiar? If not, you are not alone, very few have heard about these dates because CARB has not been enforcing the rule.
Earth

This year, the agency has made it clear that the GHG tractor trailer rule will be apriority. They will begin enforcing it now that all phase in timelines are complete for large fleets with registered small fleets needing 75% compliance if they had signed up for the phase in option.

Much to the chagrin of anyone who is just finding out about the regulation, CARB will also have the ability to issue fines retroactively.  And more than likely, many may find themselves out of compliance and not even know it. 100% of the 53’ trailer fleet is supposed to be aerodynamically equipped   or registered for an exemption of some type.  
What always comes up is the question of what specific trailers are covered. The rule only pertains to box type 53’ or longer dry or refer vans. Flatbeds, containers, 48’, anything is not a 53’ box type trailer is not covered. Refer trailers have a slightly different schedule for 2003-2009 model year trailers. Nevertheless, if it is a dry van 53’ box type trailer it is covered.  

Several exemptions exist and a fleet will need strict analysis of their tractor and trailer fleet to see if it will be applicable to vehicles.
When an exemption is chosen for an eligible tractor, it exempts the trailers it is hauling at any time from the aerodynamic standards. Both the short haul and the local haul tractor exemption provide this. The difference between the two is that on the tractor side, a short haul tractor is exempt from all requirements including tires. A local haul tractor is exempt only from aerodynamic requirements, not the tire requirements.  On the trailer side, only a local haul exemption exists, if a trailer is not being pulled by an exempted tractor, it should be registered as a local haul to be exempt from the aerodynamic requirements.

If you or someone you love is hauling a 53’ trailer, let them know it is time to install skirts or register for an exemption. They are out there, and when they find you, they will fine you.
Stay Tuned!!!