Friday, September 1, 2017

Lonely Island

CARB to Adopt More Stringent GHG Trailer Standards
With a potential weakening of the Federal Phase 2 GHG standards, CARB has thrown down the gauntlet and put manufacturers and end users on notice that Phase 2 standards will be the standard in California, regardless of a potential weakening by EPA. 

Within the building uncertainties, CARB will first harmonize the California only standards with the Phase 2 standards in 2018 which will allow end users to use Phase 2 standards for compliance with the Tractor Trailer GHG rule (TTGHG) in California.

Initially, most, if not all of the industry was happy to see CARB moving towards one standard to rule them all instead of the dreaded California-Only standard. 

Alas, nothing lasts forever. The changing of the guard has now left it up to California to bravely go it alone should the EPA weaken or pull back the Phase 2 standards.

If Phase 2 is diluted one iota, CARB will seek to modify the TTGHG to incorporate the Phase 2 guidelines as the standards for California.  And while the current focus of the TTGHG is on box type trailers, flatbeds, tankers and other non-box type trailers may see automatic tire inflation and low rolling resistant tire requirements in the rule development…basically, no one is safe.  
Quite possibly, CARB will also adopt their own verification and test method here in CA to get outside of the additional uncertainties about the future of the SmartWay program (Currently, only SmartWay verified devices achieve TTHGH compliance).
Of course all of this may be subject to an EPA waiver request. 

CARB is non-committal on their need for a Waiver from EPA, which sounds very familiar to the discussions that were happening when the Tractor Trailer Greenhouse Gas Rule was being developed back in 2008. Initially they didn’t think they needed a waiver then either, until they did.

Today, while CARB keeps a close eye on developments in DC, we can expect more side stepping and non-commitments from our now 50 year old favorite four letter agency as this rule makes its way through promulgation. EPA will determine how far CARB needs to go, but suffice it to say, things won’t be getting any easier here in California regardless of how the Federal line is bending.

If CARB is successful in implementing CA only GHG standards for new trailers and tractors sold in the Golden State quite possibly we will see another CARBpocolypse that could decimate a still recovering CA trucking industry. 

It is likely that the home grown  California Truckers will again be left holding the bag while out of state carriers avoid the assuredly more expensive standards by purchasing, you guessed it, out of state. In CARB’s collective hive mind, adherence to and compliance with the TTGHG rule will be necessary for everyone; even for carriers coming into California from out of state.
However, first, the out of state carrier must get caught violating the standards. 

There is no mechanism besides a roadside inspection for CARB to determine compliance of out of state carriers. Carriers can voluntarily report, but why would they report to CARB if they aren’t meeting the standards? 

Even if they are found and cited, it would take EPA to follow through on the citation if it was ignored, and in today’s EPA, the staff that would have handled that are now possibly selling hot dogs at the Lincoln Memorial.  

With few available avenues to go after out of state trucks (which make up the majority of the vehicles operating on CA roads annually), CARB will turn its sights on California based carriers. 
When a California carrier is citied and doesn’t pay the fine for any CARB rule violation, they get a registration hold put on their vehicles. So no  registration renewals and CHP could potentially seize and impound the vehicle at a roadside inspection since it would have been operating with invalidated registration. Impound and tow fees will just add insult to the already hefty violation that would have caused the registration hold in the first place.

Things can get really expensive, really fast.

During the all-day GHG rule(s) workshop held on Thursday August 31, CARB did mention the “economic impacts” to the CA trucking industry and mentioned that these impacts still need some “ironing out”. Usually statements like that result in little being ironed out with fleets most of the time just getting taken to the cleaners. 

And this is just one of the several possible rule developments CARB is sinking their dentures into, each with its own unique impact to the on-road trucking fleet in California…so much for no more regulations…2008 anyone?
While anything can happen and everything can change, CARB will be moving forward on several new measurers in conjunction with a potential influx of incentive funds from Cap and Trade money the CA Senate Democrats are pushing for. 

The state of California knows equipment can get expensive, but the biggest cost isn’t the fancy new all electric Aeos, it’s how many small CA based fleets will end up leaving the market because they can’t afford to exist in the regulatory climate of California…basically; adapt or die; never a dull moment.

Stay tuned!