The California Construction Trucking Association has stated it will appeal the decision handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that rejected CCTA's lawsuit challenging the legality of truck and bus regulations implemented by the California Air Resources Board.
This is the second time CCTA has lost a legal decision over this suit. The association originally filed suit in 2011 in state district court to stop the regulations from taking effect. In its argument, CCTA cited the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act.
The CARB regulations in question ban diesel-powered trucks that do not meet post-manufacturing emissions requirement from operating on California highways.
CCTA, which was known as the California Dump Truck Owners Association when the original suit wa filed, has stated the CARB regulations would cause its members to increase prices and alter routes and services to offset the cost of the regulation.
The association has contended that these rules violate a part of the FAAAA that prohibits states from enacting regulations which force changes “related to a price, route or service of any motor carrier … with respect to the transportation of property.”
A large part of the case has to do with whether CARB and the U.S. EPA may impose the regulations on vehicles manufactured before those rules took effect. The Clean Air Act does give CARB the ability to enact regulation over post-manufactured trucks. But CCTA argues that this is in conflict with a Federal statute that doesn’t allow a regulation to affect a motor carrier's business fundamentally.
The association pointed out that despite having two courts rule on the lawsuit, its core case has not been addressed.
“We have never had a hearing on the merits of our legal argument,” Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications for CCTA, told HDT. “This all got wrapped up in procedural issues brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council.”
An important aspect of the case is the potentially large impact of these environmnetal rules on smaller businesses-- including those with as few as one truck-- that CCTA represents.
According to Rajkovacz, small businesses often rely on lower overhead to compete with larger companies and smaller trucking companies keep and maintain trucks for many years longer than larger fleets, sometimes for decades.
While environmental regulations are meant to bring about change, in many instances, by forcing large businesses to comply with increasingly stringent standards, the challenge for a small businesse to comply can often be greater, stated Rajkovacz.
“If you forces small businesses to have to buy new equipment, they don’t get to go to Freightliner and say they’re going to buy 500 new trucks - give me special pricing,” said Rajkovacz. “They only buy one truck and they don’t get any volume purchasing.”
CCTA has 90 days to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court receives about 10,000 petitions each year and usually grants and hears arguments in only 75 to 80 cases.
“You can’t be in the game unless you swing the bat-- to some degree what the courts decide is out of our hands.” said Rejkovacz. “Would we love to hit a homerun? Yeah, we would. But you still have to get up and swing the bat.”