California Emission Laws - Confirm What You Hear

With various emissions rules in the news lately the challenge is understanding which rule is being discussed as the news reporters and pundits often get it wrong.

As goes California, so goes the nation. Sad, but often true. The various emissions rules have been in the news lately. The challenge is understanding which rule is being discussed as the news reporters and pundits often get it wrong.

One teaser on the radio stated "California Air Resources Board 'CARB' to suspend pollution rules!" Actually, CARB issued a press release suspending "enforcement" for one rule, the Off-Road rule. The Off-Road rule affects dozers, back-hoes, skid steers, rollers etc. It does not affect sweepers, even those registered with SE special equipment plates. The press release stated CARB did this for benevolent reasons as the "construction industry has felt the sting of the faltering economy…" Actually, the primary reason is that CARB has not received authorization from the U.S. EPA to enforce the emission related requirements of the regulation.

A very important point is that all other aspects of the Off-Road rule (and all other rules) remain in place. The rules that pertain to idling, reporting, labeling, and sales disclosures remain in effect and are fully enforceable. On caution is that if CARB can suspend enforcement with a press release, they can re-start it with another press release.

Also in the news is Assembly Bill 32, AKA AB32 (the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006). Some legislators, a public referendum effort, and even two candidates for governor have discussed repealing or modifying this far-reaching law. As much as this would help California's (and the nation's) economy, the On-Road Truck and Bus rule would be unaffected. The On-Road Truck and Bus Rule is the most devastating to the sweeping and trucking industry, affecting over one million trucks. This rule also has had its share of misinformation. While CARB did instruct staff to conduct hearings to "evaluate the impact of the recession on emissions from all sources and make adjustments to our regulations as needed," the rule is currently law and in full force.

CARB long ago stopped being a scientific based organization to become a political machine, managing public opinion via press release. The recent PhD-gate where one of CARB's lead scientists had a phony PhD led some news outlets to report some rules were being suspended. Unfortunately, this also was not the case.

Though it has not been in the news, many contractors assume their equipment is "grandfathered." Actually, the specific purpose of these regulations is to force the early retirement of equipment before the end of its useful life.

Finally, there are reporting deadlines for the On-Road Rule that start March 31, 2010. This is required if you have Tier 0 auxiliary engines or will want to get credits for retiring sweepers from your fleet in the future. Starting April 1st, 2010, expect enforcement. Regretfully, that is not an April Fool's Day joke. Deadlines for all others start January 2011.

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