A California rule created 15 years ago went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Passed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the enhanced emissions regulations that recently went online are expected to impact upwards of 200,000 diesel-fueled vehicles, including 70,000 big rigs. Reports indicate approximately 10 percent of vehicles above 14,000 made before 2010 have yet to comply, putting their registration in jeopardy.
“One of the things that really affects us in trucking is CARB’s lack of wanting to deal with this issue. During the pandemic, truckers were viewed as heroes, truckers kept things rolling,” Joe Rajkovacz, director of government affairs for the Western States Trucking Association, reportedly said. “We, as an association, are seeing members drop because of this rule. They’ve simply decided they’re not going to go out and spend $150,000 on a truck that could lead them to bankruptcy.”
The California Department of Motor Vehicles is expected to reject any vehicle that fails to comply with the newly implemented CARB rule. The board also plans to ramp up fleet audits, field inspections, and issue citations for non-compliant commercial motor vehicles. Adding to its enforcement capabilities, the agency is reportedly enlisting the support of the Environmental Protection Agency to address out-of-state vehicles entering California.
“When we passed the regulations in 2008, it was to reduce community exposure of toxic air contaminants, it is 100 percent to protect public health,” CARB spokesman Gerald Berumen reportedly said.
Like other states that focused on heavy-duty commercial vehicles, CARB indicates that diesel engines produce a disproportionate about of harmful emissions. The agency plans to consider exemptions for trucks and busses that log less than 1,000 miles annually.
The freight transportation sector faces headwinds due to increasingly stringent environmental rules. California plans to phase in a ban on trucks powered by diesel engines beginning in 2040. The move prompted Class 8 vehicle manufacturers to rethink their designs and pivot to battery-electric and hydrogen-powered trucks.
The higher sticker prices, interest rates, costs associated with zero-emissions trucks, and smaller inventories may inhibit entrepreneurial truckers from buying their own rig. Trucking industry leaders do not necessarily disagree with the goal of reducing harmful emissions. However, the implementation of the applicable regulations appears to outpace the electric grid and the ability of the industry to transition.
“We’re flying blind into some pretty major questions about the practicality of actually implementing this rule,” Chris Shimoda, senior vice president at the California Trucking Association, reportedly said. “These charging stations are going to be a huge, huge power draw. To put into context, the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on a game day uses around 300 to 350 kilowatts of power. A charging station needed for a big rig is going to be like 30 times larger.”