Enforcement and Inspection, Environmental, Transportation

EPA Settles Alleged CARB Violations with Trucking Companies

Last month, the EPA announced settlements with two interstate trucking companies over claims of violating the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Truck and Bus Regulation.

Capurro Trucking and Republic Services operate diesel-fueled heavy-duty trucks in California and other states. The EPA alleges the companies failed to install controls to reduce pollution, upgrade model year engines, and verify that the trucks complied with state rules.

“The EPA brought these enforcement actions under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Capurro Trucking paid a civil penalty of $119,162, and Republic Services, comprised of 30 entities, paid a civil penalty of $100,000, to resolve EPA’s respective violation claims against the companies,” according to an Agency news release.

“National truck fleets operating within California need to comply with our state’s truck and bus rule that regulates dangerous air pollution,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Administrator Martha Guzman in the news release. “Holding companies accountable protects the environment and public health, particularly among overburdened California communities that are bearing the brunt of pollution from diesel-fueled, heavy-duty trucks.”

The largest sources of fine particle pollution (soot) in California are diesel truck emissions. This type of pollution is linked to a variety of health issues, including asthma, impaired lung development in children, and cardiovascular effects in adults.

CARB Truck and Bus Regulation

The CARB Truck and Bus Regulation went into effect in 2008 as part of the state’s federally enforceable plan to attain cleaner air. The last replacement phase of the rule is now effective, and the final deadline to upgrade to 2010 or newer model year engines was January 1, 2023.

The regulation applies to any person or entity, including federal agencies, that owns diesel-powered vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 14,000 pounds operating in California. It includes drayage trucks that enter the seaports and intermodal railyards and solid waste collection vehicles with 2007 or newer model year engines and applies to school buses; however, their compliance requirements are different.

The rule requires trucking companies to upgrade vehicles they own to meet specific performance standards for emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter and to verify compliance of vehicles they hire or dispatch. All vehicles subject to the rule that travel in California are now required to have 2010 model year engines or equivalent emissions.

“Low-use vehicles and those operated exclusively in areas defined as NOx exempt areas must report annually in the Truck Regulation Upload, Compliance and Reporting System (TRUCRS) to maintain their exemption,” says a CARB Fact Sheet. “Reporting is not required for vehicles with a 2010 or newer engines. Diesel school buses must be equipped with a particulate matter filter (PM)” that meets the regulation’s requirements.

“About 625,000 trucks are registered outside of the state but operate in California and are subject to the rule,” the EPA news release adds. “Many of these vehicles are older models and emit high amounts of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, a precursor to ozone, which is another air pollutant that is responsible for poor air quality in California.”

The rule provides two flexibility options:

  • Vehicles that travel less than 1,000 miles per calendar year in California can continue operating under the Low Use Exemption as long as annual reporting and mileage requirements are met.
  • Vehicles that have a PM filter and operate exclusively in designated NOx-exempt areas of the state may be exempt from the requirement to upgrade to 2010 model year engines; however, fleet owners must meet vehicle labeling and annual reporting requirements.

Advanced Clean Fleets rule

In April 2023, CARB approved the Advanced Clean Fleets rule, which requires a phased-in transition toward the use of zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. This rule is expected to put California on a path toward fully transitioning trucks traveling across the state to zero-emission technology by 2045.

It “is expected to generate $26.5 billion in health savings from reduced asthma attacks, emergency room visits and respiratory illnesses,” the EPA news release continues. “In addition, CARB believes that fleet owners will save an estimated $48 billion in their total operating costs from the transition through 2050.”

Clean Truck Partnership

In July 2023, CARB announced a Clean Truck Partnership with the nation’s leading truck manufacturers and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association that advances the development of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) for the commercial trucking industry, which includes flexibility for manufacturers to meet emissions requirements while still reaching the state’s climate and emissions reduction goals.

The Clean Truck Partnership includes Cummins, Inc.; Daimler Truck North America; Ford Motor Company; General Motors Company; Hino Motors Limited, Inc.; Isuzu Technical Center of America, Inc.; Navistar, Inc.; PACCAR Inc.; Stellantis N.V.; the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association; and Volvo Group North America. These companies have agreed to meet California’s vehicle standards, which require the sale and adoption of zero-emission technology in the state regardless of whether any other entity challenges California’s authority to set more stringent emissions standards under the federal CAA.

In return, CARB agreed to work collaboratively with manufacturers to provide reasonable lead time to meet the board’s requirements and before imposing new regulations and to support the development of necessary ZEV infrastructure.

“The unprecedented collaboration between California regulators and truck manufacturers marks a new era in our zero-emission future, where we work together to address the needs of both the trucking industry and the Californians who deserve to breathe clean air,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph in the CARB news release. “This agreement makes it clear that we have shared goals to tackle pollution and climate change and to ensure the success of the truck owners and operators who provide critical services to California’s economy.”

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