Monday, December 10, 2018

CARB Cracks Down

The holidays just another reminder that the registration ban is only 13 months away
Most folks who make up the California transportation industry have been focused on making it through the remainder of 2018 with the lights on and drivers in the seats. While the industry at large has been booming as of late, looming issues for fleets domiciled in the Golden State are drawing closer still.

Besides the obvious issues like misclassification, wage and hour law, ELD, PAGA, the driver shortage, truck parking etc…thousands of trucks registered to thousands of fleets in California will be facing a registration ban for non-compliant equipment starting in 2020.

That means if a truck of a certain vintage does not meet section 2025, Tile 13 of the California Code of Regulations, more commonly referred to as the “Truck and Bus Rule”, DMV will deny registration on or after January 1, 2020.

If a fleet can demonstrate Truck and Bus CARB compliance, and prove as much to the DMV, then registration may be issued. So, it is possible to have older vehicles that are issued registration; provided they are part of an eligible, reported fleet.  However, for the remaining legacy population of non-reported, non-compliant Heavy-Duty vehicles with CA registration that do not have an exemption, there is no respite.

Of course, the On-Road rule is only one of many rules CA fleets need to adhere to.
Several other programs exist for trucks and trailers, both dry van and refrigerated. There are also idling restrictions across the state along with annual smoke testing requirements for fleets with more than 2 vehicles based in California.

What may or may not be of a surprise to fleets across the country is that not only are domiciled CA fleets subject to the CA Rules, but any diesel fueled vehicle over 14,000 pounds GVWR (Gross vehicle Weight Rating) travelling in California must meet the Truck and Bus standards or will be subject to penalties, no matter where base registration plate on the front of the truck is from.
Recently, glider kits were banned from registration in California and the industry is only a few years away from the final milestone of the Truck and Bus rule; 2023. At that point, practically the entire fleet will be required to meet 2010 on-road engine standards or DMV will deny registration.

In the meantime, a new Governor, and pretty much the same, basic political lexicon will continue and the “reign of air” will mosey right on down the path towards a “zero emissions everywhere feasible, near zero everywhere else” future for the transportation network in California.

For the trucking industry, it is it full steam (or wind or solar or hydro) ahead for additional reductions above and beyond what the on-road rule requires, and more than a few measures are moving forward.

One particular measure, known as an Indirect Source Rule (ISR) has been under consideration for several years and has started to materialize already for major freight hubs, specifically LAX. The trickledown effect notwithstanding, warehouses and distribution centers located in disadvantaged communities throughout California are being looked at for a fee-based plan that “encourages” facilities to police truck traffic and eventually only allow zero or near zero truck traffic on property to avoid a fee.
While most disbelieve the ability of the state to drive this turnover through an ISR, other entities are already moving beyond what is currently required and into the promised future of zero emission freight transport.

The ports of LA and Long Beach have already committed to the electric boogaloo through a CAAP modification, seeking a fully zero emission truck fleet by 2035. Leading up to the 2035 standard, in 2020, to hasten the move to cleaner truck engine platforms, the ports will seek to apply a “rate” to any container moved by a truck that doesn’t meet zero or near zero standards.
While there are no specifics on what the rate will be, yet, suffice it to say, for shippers and cargo owners who move several containers a month, week, or day, this is no small concern. The ports have made it clear that it paying the rate on each container move will quickly exceed the cost of transition to cleaner engine platforms for the truck fleets shippers and cargo owners contract with. So, to avoid the fee, use a clean truck.

The rate or fee concept is not new, and really it is all that is left for the regulatory apparatus of the Golden State when it comes to forcing another accelerated truck turnover.
On January 1, 2018 it became official that the state, nor any political subdivisions of the state (like ports or air districts) have the ability to pass a regulatory measure that forces the turnover of existing, in-use compliant engines to cleaner standards unitl those engines reach a certain age.

The “useful life” provision of the lauded SB1, signed by Governor Brown in 2017, gave the CA based trucking industry a little breathing room when it comes to the ability of regulatory agencies to force accelerated turnover standards on the in-use fleet, but at the same time didn’t completely hamstring the ability of those agencies to again force an accelerated move to cleaner technology. 

Although the fact that no state agency may force a truck to turn over to a cleaner standard until that truck engine reaches 12 years of age or 850,000 miles (with a maximum age of 18 years from the year the engine was built) it does not stop the California Leviathan from concocting schemes to backdoor the statute and force turnover through “fees” and “rates”.

So basically, there is no escape. But, there may be options. STAY TUNED!

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