A New York Supreme Court judge recently blocked a Department of Environmental Conservation mandate requiring the owners of heavy-duty diesel vehicles to retrofit their fleets with costly new equipment.

The plaintiffs said the agency mistakenly applied a law intended to address state-owned vehicles to private owners. Justice Donald A. Greenwood agreed in a decision released on Dec. 15 in Riccelli Enterprises Inc. v. Department of Environmental Conservation.
"This is a landmark decision," said Kendra Adams, executive director of the New York State Motor Truck Association. "From the beginning, we felt that the regulations extended much further than the original intent behind the legislation. NYSDEC really took broad strokes in their interpretation of the new legislation."

When the Legislature passed the underlying legislation in 2006, it intended to require new emission control systems for state-owned trucks because federal money was available to pay for the retrofit. Private industry did not have federal money to pay for such retrofits. NYSDEC expanded the legislative intent of the law to include private-sector heavy-duty trucks.

If NYSDEC remained unchallenged, experts estimated that it would have cost billions of dollars to the state economy.

In its decision, the court said the Legislature did not grant DEC the authority to require diesel retrofits to vehicles that were not owned, leased or operated by the state or a limited number of private companies that contract with the state.