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.”

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