Safety & Compliance

CARB Loses Appeal in Lawsuit over Emissions Compliance

February 01, 2018

By Steven Martinez

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An appeals court has ruled that CARB had overstepped its authority in allowing small fleets to delay compliance and failed to consider the economic and environmental impacts. Photo: Jim Park
An appeals court has ruled that CARB had overstepped its authority in allowing small fleets to delay compliance and failed to consider the economic and environmental impacts. Photo: Jim Park

California's Fifth District Court of Appeals  has affirmed a ruling from 2016 that the California Air Resources Board overstepped its authority in allowing small trucking companies to delay complying with certain emissions regulations.

The Superior Court of California’s Central Division originally ruled against CARB in June 2016, but CARB vowed to appeal the decision. The case was brought to the court by John R Lawson Rock and Oil of Fresno and the California Trucking Association, alleging that CARB failed to follow proper administrative procedures when it granted small fleets a temporary reprieve from certain emissions standards.

“The appellate court’s decision is a significant victory for CTA and compliant truck fleets of all sizes who spent millions to comply with CARB’s 2008 Truck and Bus Rule only to have the rules of the game changed midway through,” said Shawn Yadon, CEO of the CTA in a statement. “The so-called grace period put compliant fleets at a financial and competitive disadvantage to those that, year after year, dragged their feet or refused to comply with the rule.”

CTA and John R Lawson Rock and Oil of Fresno argued that CARB was creating an uneven playing field by allowing certain companies to forgo the financial burden of complying with emissions standards.

For its part, CARB argued that it made the provisions because the costs of complying with emissions regulations have a much higher impact on very small trucking companies -- those with 3 or fewer trucks -- compared to those with large fleets.  

Ultimately, the appeals court affirmed the original ruling in favor of the plaintiffs that CARB had in fact overstepped its authority in allowing small fleets to delay compliance and failed to consider the economic and environmental impacts that delaying the rule for would have before it made modifications to the rules.

“This decision validates our claim that CARB did not adequately consider the unfair economic impact to compliant truckers when it chose to delay this rule," said Yadon. “While it is too early to determine how CARB will respond to the court order, we trust they will choose a path forward that is minimally disruptive to those making good faith efforts to comply.”

Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications for the Western States Trucking Association,which represents many small fleets in California, was dismayed by the ruling.

“It’s a victory for those who have done virtually everything to use CARB rules to shaft smaller carriers,” he told HDT. “We were alone as an association getting owners more time to comply. As things stand now, there is virtually no meaningful extensions and everyone must comply.”


  1. 1. Andrew Genovese [ February 02, 2018 @ 07:59AM ]

    Clearly evident that all these trucking associations do not care for the individual owner operators. Glad I never joined them.

  2. 2. Dann [ February 02, 2018 @ 03:12PM ]

    CARB had overstepped its authority? How about the whole truck and bus regulation? Talk about retroactivity. All the trucks that are now "non-compliant," were compliant at the time they were manufactured.

  3. 3. Dann [ February 02, 2018 @ 03:16PM ]

    CARB overstepping its authority? How about the whole truck and bus regulation? Retroactivity at its finest. These vehicles were compliant when manufactured.

  4. 4. Joe c. [ February 03, 2018 @ 09:22AM ]

    It’s amazes me with the millions of Dollars CARB has cost businesses as well as truck owners that some loose cannon hasn’t gone to their headquarters in Sacramento & started shooting everyone in Sight starting with that total looser Mary Nichols !!! They must have quite the security !!

  5. 5. Dan [ February 06, 2018 @ 05:45PM ]

    As a truck owner I don't like the regulations no more than anyone else does and have fought it since day one. CARB has never considered the "economic impact" to the industry even though this is part of their advertised mission statement. And it has been clear that nobody goes up against Mary Nichol's and for that reason there should be term limits to prevent the total rise in power of one individual with their own agenda. But it is a victory for all truck owners that this lawsuit prevailed. Even though larger companies can absorb the costs of compliance easier than the small fleet, at the same time they also have to come up with a larger/relative amount of money based on the size of their fleet to stay in compliance. So nobody, large or small, is exempt from the cost of compliance. Large and small fleets bid on the same jobs, and it is not an even playing field if the large company had to upgrade to meet compliance where the small fleet didn't. This was the basis for the lawsuit, which ultimately proved that CARB was unfair in their implementation of the regulations. Nobody is "out to get" the small fleet. All fleets, large and small, fought hard against these regulations. But when CARB forced it down our throats, nobody should be exempt (or allowed a delay) based on the size of their fleet. CTA is fair to all fleets regardless of the size. This lawsuit is a win-win for all truck owners. It makes the statement that CARB in fact does NOT have all-power over businesses and therefore needs to be realistic in their decision making knowing that truck owners and organizations such as CTA can and will stand up, again, when CARB oversteps its authority and gives an advantage to one company over another. More regulations are on the way and all fleets large and small need to stand together and fight this over-extension of CARB's reach.

  6. 6. David Powell [ February 13, 2018 @ 02:37PM ]

    What is CARB doing about railroad emissions, they put out more emissions per mile than trucks ever will.

  7. 7. Troy [ March 12, 2018 @ 11:19PM ]

    Joe C They do have lots of security and no one is accountable. In their offices you do not hear a phone ring it simply goes to voice mail. At one meeting I attended a guy was asking for information the lady said would only be available from the Sacramento offices. The guy said ok I will be in Sacramento next week. I will just stop by. The lady said he wouldn't be allowed access to her office because him just showing up would be considered threatening behavior.
    They have been allowed to create a monster


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