California Adopts Landmark Air Pollution Rules

In mid-December, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted two critical regulations directly aimed at cleaning up harmful emissions from the estimated one million heavy-duty diesel trucks that operate in California.

Beginning January 1, 2011, the Statewide Truck and Bus rule will require owners of diesel trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 14,000 pounds to install diesel exhaust filters on their rigs, with nearly all vehicles upgraded by 2014. Owners must also replace engines older than the 2010 model year according to a staggered implementation schedule that extends from 2012 to 2022.

Also adopted was the Heavy Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction measure that requires long-haul truckers to install fuel efficient tires and aerodynamic devices on their trailers that lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy.

According to CARB, heavy-duty big rigs are the largest remaining source of unregulated diesel emissions, responsible for 32 percent of the smog-forming emissions and nearly 40 percent of the cancer-causing emissions from diesel mobile sources (other diesel emitters include trains, off-road vehicles, and marine engines). The greenhouse gas reduction measure applies to more than 500,000 trailers, while the diesel regulation applies to about 400,000 heavy-duty vehicles that are registered in the state, and about 500,000 out-of-state vehicles that do business in California. However, because many heavy-duty vehicles are replaced or retired due to normal business practices on a faster schedule than what the new regulation will require, CARB estimates the number of vehicles expected to be retrofit by 2014 under the rule is about 230,000, while up to 350,000 vehicles would be replaced earlier than normal over the next 15 years.

To help truck owners upgrade their vehicles, the state is offering more than a billion dollars in funding opportunities. Options include Carl Moyer grants, which are designated for early or surplus compliance with diesel regulations; Proposition 1B funds, for air quality improvements related to goods movement; and Assembly Bill 118, which establishes a low-cost truck loan program to help pay for early compliance with the truck rule. In addition, CARB is evaluating ways to integrate these programs so that truckers can get a grant and a loan at the same time, minimizing paperwork and significantly reducing the monthly payments for a new truck loan.

The diesel regulation is structured so that owners can choose from among three compliance options to meet regulation requirements. There are exceptions to the regulation, including low-use vehicles, emergency and military vehicles, and personal use motor homes. School buses would be subject only to requirements for reducing diesel particulate matter and not for engine replacement.

Effect on Renderers
When asked how this new rule would affect renderers in California, only Baker Commodities responded. Dennis Luckey, executive vice president for the Los Angeles-based company, said his understanding of the regulations is that neither will have a material effect on Baker’s fleet.

“In recent years, federally imposed requirements of heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers have lowered emissions on new trucks,” Luckey stated. “The most recent requirement, which became effective on January 1, 2007, saw the addition of a catalytic converter exhaust treatment system, referred to as a diesel particulate filter (DPF), to all models manufactured after that date. This system was designed to minimize the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions that occur during idle and when the engine is cold and not burning fuel efficiently.”

According to Luckey, additional federal regulations effective January 1, 2010, will further require engine manufacturers to install selective catalytic reduction technology on all new trucks, which improves the NOx reduction provided by the DPF exhaust treatment system through the injection of a urea-based reagent into the system.

“The effects of reducing emissions imposed by recent federal regulations on California companies like Baker are felt and will be felt with every post January 1, 2007, new truck purchase, while the new CARB regulation will seldom impact cost to any operation that regularly upgrades its fleet with the newer less polluting vehicles,” Luckey added.

But those companies with older equipment (pre-2007) operating in California may be forced to take their equipment off the road when mandated to comply with the new regulation. Pre-1994 vehicle models will be the first required to comply on January 1, 2011.

“At that point, to continue operation of a 1993 and older vehicle will require the installation of a specialized diesel exhaust filter system at a cost of nearly $25,000 per unit,” he commented. “In each of the following years, the next older model vehicles will be required to comply. It is unlikely that an operator would choose to invest such a large sum in a vehicle that was 15 years old unless subsidies greater than low-cost financing are made available. The 2007-2009 model years would eventually be required to comply, but at dates that are likely to be near the end of their useful life.” Luckey doesn’t believe renderers in California will be categorized as long-haul operators under the greenhouse gas emission reduction rule, and thinks other states will probably follow California’s lead in reducing emissions at some point in the future.

California has the nation’s most polluted air. Because of new engine standards established in 2001, diesel engines operating in California have been getting cleaner, but are not getting clean fast enough to meet the state’s air quality goals. With the new Statewide Bus and Truck rule in place, by 2014, CARB estimates diesel emissions will be 68 percent lower than they would be without the regulation, while NOx emissions will be 25 percent lower.

CARB staff held dozens of workshops and met with hundreds of business owners and other stakeholders over the last 20 months. Without the diesel regulation, California will not be able to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-mandated air quality standards and deadlines, and could subsequently lose billions of dollars in federal highway funding.

More information on the Statewide Bus and Truck Regulation is available at For information on the Heavy Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Reduction Measure, visit

Newsline – February 2009 RENDER | back