Truckers who don't run a lot of miles in California may get more time to comply with emissions rules.

Late last month the California Air Resources Board took up amendments to the state’s Truck and Bus Regulation. If passed soon, as expected, they would offer allow more time for truck owners to comply with emissions rules under its Low-Use Vehicle Exemption.

Currently trucks can operate in California without meeting the diesel particulate filter or engine upgrade requirements, provided a truck does not run more than 1,000 miles in the state annually.

The new proposal would expand this low-use exemption program. That means truck owners would not need to comply with the Statewide Truck and Bus rule requirements to retrofit or replace engines until 2020, provided they don’t run more than 5,000 miles annually inside California. Registration with CARB and annual mileage repotting would be required.

This development is “huge,” says Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications for the California Construction Trucking Association and its interstate conference, the Western Trucking Alliance, in an interview.

“For instance, if someone has a 2000 model year truck, the first of January it has to be retrofitted with a DPF or replaced with a truck with a 2007 model or newer engine. [If this is approved by CARB] they don’t have to comply with that. They get six more years of running their in-use equipment. All they have to do is manage their fleet.”

Rajkovacz says for fleets, this simply means making sure that none of the trucks run more than 5,000 miles annually in the state. For an owner-operator it can have benefits, too.

“I talked with a guy who lives in California but is leased to an Iowa company and comes home once a month, and he said an allowance of 5,000 miles is going to allow him to not have to comply with California’s rules because he doesn’t put 5,000 miles a year in his home state,” Rajkovacz says.

As part of this proposal, CARB is also considering a “Good Faith Effort” extension for those who will still be required to comply with the Jan. 1 deadline. It would give a six-month extension if one of the four following conditions are met:

  • a DPF has been ordered;
  • a replacement truck has been ordered;
  • a grant has been applied for to pay to repower or replace a truck
  • a loan has been applied for to repower or replace a truck.

Source documents would be required to be provided in order to get the extension.

CARB earlier agreed to increase loan and grant money to owner-operators and small-business trucking operations that were cut out of another funding opportunity.

Rajkovacz concedes this change will not benefit everyone, and not everyone likes it.

“For someone who regularly runs California, this doesn’t do them any good, except for the good faith effort extension,” he says. “I do know some of the large motor carriers feel this is unfair because they invested in newer equipment and they feel the playing field will be unlevel. So sad, so sorry. It just buys people a lot more time to comply."