Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Truck Fleet Faces $523,675 Fine for Non-Compliance with CARB Rules

When They Find You, They Will Fine You...
This month, CARB fined a Taft, CA based trucking firm over $500,000 for not complying with several HDD programs. Typically, fines of this size have been reserved for importers of non-compliant small engines or manufacturer and distributors of cleaning chemicals and supplies.  This recent fine is a blatant signal that CARB is out there and stepping up enforcement activites on motor carriers operating in California.

Although it may take many weeks or sometimes months to reach a “settlement”, truck operators should understand that all it takes is one violation to bring down the house.
Over the years, many fleets have given CARB the “one-fingered-salute” when it comes to the in-use truck regulations; resting on the fact that the limited enforcement capability of CARB would allow them to operate without incident through the ever tightening requirements. Those days are numbered; when CARB finds a fleet that has not been doing anything, they have little, if any sympathy.

And what makes these fines even more unsettling is the fact that not only are fleets required to pay the citation, but they must also bring their fleet into compliance within 45 days of the settlement.
The trucking fleet in question must not only demonstrate compliance, but they are also required to fulfill a payment plan of over $43,000 to the state each month through the end of 2015. The fleet must also designate an individual to attend classes on existing regulations as well as maintenance procedures for emission control equipment. Not to mention submitting annual smoke testing reports and even installing “Low NOx” software on particular model year engines.

CARB has made it crystal clear over the past 15+ years of HDD enforcement that fines are not to be considered a “cost of doing business”. In fact, CARB has statutory authority to fine a truck fleet up to $10,000 per day that a fleet is out of compliance with the statewide On-Road Truck and Bus Rule.
Considering the On-Road Rule started in 2012, a single citation that leads to a full fleet audit may be enough to put a fleet out of business.  CARB has even been inclined to levy unfair business practices lawsuits at fleets for non-compliance. And no matter where a fleet is based, if they come into California, they are subject to a host of regulations.

Although the cost of compliance is high, CARB expects fleets to meet the deadlines or face the fines. To put it harshly, fleets have three choices when it comes to dealing with CARB compliance this late in the regulatory scheme of things; suck it up, pass it on or go away. It is the current regulatory reality here in the Golden State.
While many carriers have boycotted California, even more have not, and if they want to do business here, they must address their CARB compliance issues. When they find you, they will fine you, no way around it.

Details of this settlement and others can be found at .  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

NOx, Ozone and Soot! Oh My!

The industry is headed back down the regulatory road, whether we know it or not.
In California, a good portion of the industry is still recovering from the first round of CARB imposed truck turnover requirements. With recent developments it is likely that more is still to come. In fact, portions of the industry are going to be facing down a whole new set of requirements within the next 10-12 years, maybe sooner.
With the imminent lowering of the Federal Ozone standard and most recently the SCAQMD estimating that it will not be able to meet 2015 PM standards, the industry is going to again be brought into the discussion for additional emissions reductions to help meet state, federal and local standards. In all honesty and speaking frankly, they never left the discussion or in other words, no rest for the weary.

The on-road sector has had its share of regulations thrown at it, but no one can stop the revolving dunk tank that has become the suite of diesel rules. Just when the industry is drying out, a whole new set of technologies are lining up. Both CARB and the SCAMD have made no secret about offering a lower optional NOx standard to engine manufacturers in order to allow access to incentives for Natural Gas engines that meet a tighter NOx standard. Not to mention efforts in the ports of LA and Long Beach to electrify or hybridize truck movements in and around the port.

Distribution centers in California are also being looked at to help further define new mediums for accelerated truck turnover in California. Facility caps are currently being considered in the “back to the drawing board” freight efficiency measure coming from CARB.  South Coast is also pushing for facility caps, and in fact has been for many years due to immediate and overdue needs for NOx and PM reductions. CARB’s facility cap requirement would limit the amount of emissions (including GHG) that could be generated by activities at covered locations throughout the SCAQMD region and eventually throughout the state.
The engine platform of the vehicles entering the facility will have usage calculated and emissions will be given weight. Each vehicle will contribute to an overall level that CARB will seek to cap; the cleaner the engine, the smaller the contribution. Facilities will need to monitor truck traffic and quite possibly limit trips, unless a cleaner engine platform is utilized.

Driving these requirements are interim dates for achieving emissions standards set by the federal government (See  “You Want NOx With That” Click Here ) that need to be met in the SCAQMD in 2020. The more recent 2015 deadline for PM in SCAQMD, may possibly be missed, which will force the District to look for additional reductions. This may include more burn limitations and an aggressive enforcement effort, but time will tell.

Lucky (if you want to call it that) for the private on-road trucking fleet, the SCAQMD has no authority for regulating mobile source emissions from the private sector. There are some limited exceptions; however, SCAQMD can’t propose an in-use truck rule. They can go after the ports and they may be able to go after distribution centers under a facility cap, especially if the diesel magnet source argument holds. But, as always, time will tell.
In the meantime the EPA will tighten the standards for Ozone across the country, as the agency is under court order to adopt a plan by October 2015.  Under this new Ozone plan, California will have until 2037 to attain the new 70-65 ppb standard. The rest of the country will need to meet the standards in 2025.

The 2037 date, although well into the future, will no doubt push California to look for more NOx reductions from the trucking fleet. NOx is a precursor to Ozone, so if you reduce NOx, Ozone should follow. For Heavy Duty trucking, that means low NOx alternative fuel platforms or quite possibly a mandate for the Heavy Duty electric hybrids of myth and legend.

Make no mistake; the discussion is far from over. Pay close attention to the “man behind the curtain” as the great and powerful Golden State is just getting warmed up. Stay Tuned!