EHS Administration, Sustainability

California Pushing for Waivers on Heavy-Duty Truck Emissions

On August 2, 2022, California Attorney General (AG) Rob Bonta led a coalition of 17 AGs in urging the EPA to grant, in full, California’s preemption waiver applications for its heavy-duty truck standards.

Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), California may request a waiver of preemption that allows California to enforce different emissions standards for new motor vehicles than those imposed by federal standards. California has traditionally enforced more stringent regulations.

Earlier this year, the EPA reinstated California’s waivers for its “greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards and zero-emission vehicle sales mandate for model years 2017-2025,” reports Repairer Driven News. These state waivers were removed during the Trump administration.

In September 2021, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) established several emissions standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles and engines in the state that are 90 percent more stringent than currently applicable federal heavy-duty nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions standards.

“These NOx reductions, which are equivalent to taking 16 million light-duty cars off the road, are expected to prevent roughly 3,900 premature deaths and 3,150 hospitalizations statewide,” states Bonta’s press release. “CARB’s Advanced Clean Truck regulations, which aim to accelerate the widespread adoption of zero emission vehicles in the medium and heavy-duty truck sector, are similarly critical for California’s efforts to address climate change and protect public health. By 2040, [these] regulations will reduce emissions of NOx by 16.9 tons per day and fine particulate matter emissions by 0.46 tons per day.”

Allied with Bonta in the request are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York state, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York.

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.), along with Representatives Mark DeSaulnier and Nanette Diaz Barragán (both D-Calif.), also sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, urging the EPA to expeditiously grant the unconditional approval of California’s waiver requests.

Feinstein’s press release reports the EPA is considering partially or fully denying the request, which is unprecedented under a Democratic administration.

The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) recently filed suit against CARB over its Heavy-Duty Omnibus rule, which requires a 90 percent reduction in NOx emissions in new diesel trucks starting with 2027 model years. The suit alleges the regulation does not provide the required 4-year minimum lead time and “seeks to delay the implementation dates of the regulation and ‘reinstate’ the leadtime periods,” reports DieselNet.

If the EPA were to deny the waivers, the first few years of CARB’s truck regulations would be voided, including the Golden State’s Heavy-Duty Omnibus and its Advanced Clean Trucks rules.

Additionally, other states would be impacted by an EPA denial.

Massachusetts and Oregon have adopted California’s Heavy-Duty Omnibus Rule and scheduled it for implementation in 2025.

Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington have adopted the California Advanced Clean Trucks regulations, and Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, and Vermont have indicated they also plan to implement the rule.

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