Sunday, July 14, 2013

Breaking Wind? Easier to ask Forgiveness than Permission.

CARB to Request Clean Air Act Waiver for Certain GHG Truck and Trailer Provisions

In 2008, CARB passed the so called “SmartWay” rule for truck fleets hauling 53’ or greater, box type trailers on highways in California. Modeled after the EPA program that scores truck fleets for fuel saving measures by encouraging use of SmartWay Certified technologies, The GHG Tractor-Trailer Regulation requires SmartWay Certified aerodynamic upgrades and tire replacement for fuel savings. These efforts are to meet goals under AB 32, the landmark legislation limiting GHG emissions from sources in California.
The segment of the industry that falls into the rule must install trailer skirts and low rolling resistance tires on their covered trailers  that travel more than 100 miles away from the local haul base of that piece of equipment. These local haul trailers must be registered with CARB reported on annually. CARB and expects the entire covered population to have tires in 2015 and outside of exemptions, SmartWay certified skirts by 2016.

Another part of the rule requires any 2011 or newer model year 53’ or greater trailer or 2011 or newer tractor that will be hauling a 53’ or greater covered trailer to be SmartWay equipped when purchased in California. The local haul trailer exemption may be applied, but it will require reporting after the trailer has been purchased.

Despite trucking industry skepticism over the reported benefits of the rule, In December 2008 it passed without much discussion, as it was playing second fiddle to the larger rule being adopted on the same day, the On-Road Truck and Bus Rule. During development of both rules CARB claimed they did not need to apply for a Clean Air Act waiver for any part of either rule.
Lately, opinions from CARB legal staff have surfaced over the need for a waiver to enforce the 2011 and newer trailer and tractor provisions. Specific details are pending, nevertheless CARB sources have confirmed that they will be seeking a waiver and should be filing with the EPA in the coming weeks.  

The provisions requiring tires and aerodynamic upgrades on existing equipment will be unaffected by the waiver request. CARB will be looking for skirts on non-exempt trailers during enforcement inspections and audits. Although it is clear that the majority of the rule will reamain unchanged,  a renewed discussion should emerge regarding the effectiveness of the entire rule. Stay tuned to learn more!


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