By March 1, 2010, the fleet not only had to be in compliance with performance requirements, the actions taken to meet these requirements had to be reported to CARB no later than April, 2010. "Once we had collected all the data, we realized we weren't in bad shape for meeting the March 2010 date," says Hardy. "Our off-road fleet consisted primarily of equipment powered by Tier II and Tier III engines. If I recall, we may have sold a couple of pieces of older equipment to help ensure compliance."
As he points out, to be competitive, most rental companies need to have newer equipment in their fleet, not to mention the fact that 75 percent of Cresco's contractor customers work in the Bay Area where strict emission standards on federally funded projects already were in place. Adds, Hardy, "The rule may have caught us off guard, but I believe, too, that doing the right thing will help in the long run."
According to ARA Vice-President of Government Affairs John McClelland, Cresco's moves to meet the original compliance time of March 2010 mirrored those of other large and medium-sized rental companies. "We haven't had a great number of complaints from our members about the rule," he relates. "What seemed to be the biggest immediate challenge was understanding how to use CARB's DOORS website, and we guided several members through that exercise.
He notes that long term there were issues. "We made it clear to CARB that using their compliance model and using the rental fleet data we had that a rental company with a very clean fleet could have been unable to comply with the rule as implemented and forced to needlessly eliminate certain pieces of equipment from the fleet before normal attrition. In terms of meeting the original rule, we know that rental companies have the cleanest fleets in California. Yet some would have their hands tied because the poor economy in California has forced rental fleet operators to buy less new equipment and extend the use of their remaining fleet."
As McClelland points out, regulations come with compliance costs and there has to be a compelling reason for a regulation, and it has to be based on sound science, something the original rule lacked. "Our analysis was that the fuel use figures ARB estimated from their emissions inventory model were four times greater than what we could verify using independent data sets, including data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency.
In a statement last April, CARB attributed a down economy to the lower inventory numbers. Said ARB's chairperson Mary Nichols, "We fully recognize that the economy has had an effect on the owners and operators of big rigs, buses, and construction equipment. We are committed to taking those impacts into consideration for our diesel clean-up program."
Because of the economy, compliance costs was another concern and, as Fischer notes, CARB sometimes anticipates a need assuming the market will respond in kind when in fact the cost of testing and producing a fix (e.g., a filter) may not be financially worthwhile. Not to say this attributed to the rule changes, but collecting PM on off-road diesel equipment can be cumbersome anyway, he adds. "These filters can be very large and depending on the equipment and application, they can impede an operator's view."
Working with ARA, the Associated General Contractors (AGC), and the off-road implementation advisory group CARB set about changing the proposed rules for off-road equipment (as well as on -road and portable power equipment). As mentioned above, the new rule was finalized on December 17, 2010. The off-road changes would:
Delay start of requirements until January 1, 2014
Increase the number of "low-use" equipment exempted
Provide simpler compliance options for the smallest fleets
Extend benefits for businesses that comply before their deadline
Lower annual requirements to clean up engines
The changes also addressed a concern raised by Cresco's Hardy about rewarding rental companies that had been proactive in meeting original target emission guidelines. In addition to streamlining the compliance process and offering additional time and flexible options to meet requirements, CARB indicated the rule changes would provide credits for efforts already made to reduce emissions.