Fuel Smarts

Court: CARB Can't Level Playing Field for Truck Emissions Compliance

June 10, 2016

By David Cullen

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A California judge has ruled that the California Air Resources Board erred in delaying the enforcement of stricter diesel emission rules for certain heavy-duty truck operators. 

The ruling by the Superior Court of California’s Central Division sets aside delays amended to the state’s Truck and Bus clean-air rule by CARB in 2014, ostensibly to level the playing field between large and small truck operations. 

In a statement, CARB said those amendments “provide badly needed flexibility to smaller fleets (three trucks or less), lower-use vehicles including those operated by small farmers, and fleets in some rural areas.” 

The agency said it will immediately file an appeal, which “will maintain the status quo while the case makes its way through the higher courts.” CARB said that as the case makes its way through the Court of Appeal process, its statewide staff will continue to enforce the regulation and will cite those vehicles found to be out of compliance. 

“We strongly disagree with the court, and will file an appeal in all possible haste,” said Jack Kitowski, head of CARB’s Mobile Source Division, which is in charge of putting the regulation into effect on a daily basis. “We don’t want to see small fleets and farmers hurt by this decision.”

The lawsuit was filed by John R. Lawson Rock and Oil of Fresno and the California Trucking Association, which alleged that CARB did not follow the proper procedures of the Administrative Procedures Act and the California Environmental Quality Act in adopting the amendments. 

“This ruling confirms that CARB failed to properly consider the impact on business and the environment when it pulled the rug out from under thousands of compliant fleets by not enforcing the rules across the board, to all trucks on California roadways,” said Shawn Yadon, CEO of CTA. “This is an important ruling for all businesses operating in California because it supports the requirement that regulatory agencies must evaluate the economic impact of their actions.” 

“In 2014," said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey, “we recognized the extreme economic pressures experienced by smaller trucking fleets and independent owners as they sought to comply by upgrading or purchasing new equipment. We responded by amending the regulation to make it more flexible for ‘the little guys’ to comply.  This court decision negates those amendments and deals a profound blow the smaller fleets, small farmers and independent owners.”

CTA’s Yadon told HDT that the lawsuit “was not about big carrier vs. small carrier. CARB’s amendments picked winners and losers, with the losers being those operators and carriers who stepped up and complied with the rule, at great cost.

"Those compliant operators and carriers were then placed in an unfair competitive landscape alongside those who had not complied and had not stepped up and incurred those significant compliance costs,” he added.

Yadon noted that during CARB’s April 2014 public hearing on amending the delays to the clean-air rule, truck operators and small trucking companies “detailed significant financial hardships to comply with the rule, and spoke in opposition to the amendments to allow non-compliant operators a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Upon hearing directly from operators/carriers about the economic impacts the amendments would create, CARB voted to approve the amendments without conducting the thorough economic impact analysis required under the California Administrative Procedures Act.”

Joe Rajkovacz, director of Governmental Affairs and Communications for the Western States Trucking Association, which did not have a position on the case, told HDT that the decision was not unexpected. He said that WSTA was “responsible for helping create the flexibility options” and was “successful in politicking the board in 2014 for these compliance options.”

Rajkovacz said that an appeal of the ruling could take years. “One of the flexibility options (for small fleets) effectively expires on January 1, 2018,” he noted, “rendering any final decision potentially moot should the appeals court affirm the trial court’s decision.”


  1. 1. Paul [ June 13, 2016 @ 06:11AM ]

    Once again we see which side the CTA took....the big guys who pay the big membership fees. I'm a small company with 4 trucks and I HAVE spent the money to be compliant, but I don't want to screw the owner operator that can't afford to upgrade. Why doesn't he CTA do something useful for once like trying to help he industry get the freight rates up or help with the hours of service or getting rid of the eld's. Oh....I remember....they're too busy filling their pockets with money....not mine though!!!

  2. 2. Tom [ June 13, 2016 @ 06:55AM ]

    Paul, That's the exact reason I quit CTA a long time ago. I attended all the hearings before the emissions rules went into place. The CTA didn't fight CARB at all for ANY of us, too politically correct, too busy having lunches and dinners at the Citizen hotel on our money to do anything that might harm their "relationship" with CARB...... spineless bunch!

  3. 3. Steve [ June 13, 2016 @ 08:07AM ]

    California is sitting on $20 trillion in liquid investments. Therefore,they should buy new trucks and farm equipment for everyone. see their Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports.

  4. 4. Robert [ June 13, 2016 @ 10:40AM ]

    Let's take your feelings about CARB and your feelings about the CTA and toss them out the window...Now that we've done that, look at the guy who has 10 trucks and complied with the CARB guidelines costing him over $1M. Now look at the guy with 3 trucks who didn't have to comply. How is this fair? Everyone was given the same deadlines and the same requirements, but now the slightly larger small company has a $1M of additional overhead, not to mention the increased costs of insurance etc. Now look at the guy with 3 trucks that complied how is he punished by the rules and amendments at the last minute? He still spent the $400K to upgrade, but he is in direct competition with the other guy with 3 trucks that didn't comply. These two could be operating right next door to each other. Who can afford to drop their rates and still make a profit? So your feelings about CARB and your feelings about the CTA bear no meaning in this matter. What's fair is fair and the amendments were NOT!

  5. 5. Doc [ June 13, 2016 @ 01:53PM ]

    I run a small trucking company (9 trucks) and have spent a significant amount of money to comply - all out of our pocket (no help from CARB or Air Resources). We have done so because in 2006 when we first heard about this mandate from CARB we did not ignore it and pretend it did not exist as many have done. To hear some complain about the costs associated with CARB compliance now just means they failed to plan ahead and have been harvesting the economic benefit that my company has responsibly denied. We planned for it and started retro-fitting my existing trucks and began buying a new truck every few years to replace perfectly good trucks - just not CARB compliant. I applaud Mr. Lawson and CTA for trying to make it a fair and level playing field for us all. CTA has been a huge partner to us in providing the information and understanding this rule has imposed upon us. I wish enforcement were stepped up to ensure compliance. We will continue (through 2021) to suffer financial hardship and forego any possible profit for this small company by replacing perfectly good/able trucks (which will have no resale value) with trucks that cost us over $170,000 each (new) until we have replaced my entire fleet. We do so because it is the right thing to do - for our loyal customers, for our drivers, their families and the people in the geographical area we proudly serve.

  6. 6. Jim [ June 14, 2016 @ 12:34PM ]

    In the first place, life's not fair. The field is not level, hasn't been legal, and won't ever be level. Big trucking generally is not in competition with the small fleets, and owner-operators. Large fleets don't serve the market that the small fleets do. Large fleets don't care to serve the market small fleets do, (1or more trucks) or they'd be doing it. Anything with a flatbed, or refrigerator, heavy equipment, attached to it, and requires a driver that knows what he-she is doing doesn't interest them in the least.
    Big trucking likes LTL, trailer load van type trucking. They've built the infrastructure to deal with this type of freight. Docks for LTL to be off loaded, redistributed to trucks that run certain routes, etc.. Warehousing, and dock to dock, multiple truckloads.
    Owner-operator, and small fleet don't have the infrastructure, can't afford to build it, or the desire to .
    Owner-operator, ans small fleet operations tend to run a 75% overhead. Big carriers tend to run lower overhead, particularly LTL carriers.
    The extension of time to be in compliance is exactly that. Those granted delays to become compliant, only buys them time to answer the problem in a manner that may allow them to remain in business.
    This, and other mandates dictated by an agency, not elected officials is potentially illegal. To not consider the economic impact on all business, as well.
    These emissions control should've been implemented in the same way automobiles were done from 1965 on. Retrofit existing vehicles to reduce emissions, while attrition takes these vehicles from service. New vehicle emissions control equipment should also been implimented over time, to spread the costs over time. A much more affordable manner all round.
    These mandates were dictated without regard to the conditions in US economy at the time. Which at that time was tanked, and has yet to recover. The EPA, and CARB pressed on with their business killing mandates. For all the money spent, and implementation to upgrade emissions to a standard that there was/is not technology to build the components has not changed the amount of "smog" worldwide not a bit. It does no good to force emissions equipment that's not available to the rest of the world for the foreseeable future. A "time release" manner should've been the rule.
    There is an ongoing debate as to whether climate change is real, or If the elements the emissions control addresses are the elements that need removed. No study has been done to determine natural emissions from man made contributions. There is no evidence to support there has been a change in the climate.
    What is true is the public hears only one side of climate change story. The side that polititians want us to hear. Opposing views are discouraged.


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