Briefing Report: Talks Rev Up Over Proposed Changes to Truck and Bus Regulation

Thursday, April 3, 2014

On December 12, 2008, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the Truck and Bus Regulation.  The stated purpose of the regulation was to reduce particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen emissions from diesel vehicles operating in California.  However, since its enactment, many truckers have found it difficult to keep on truckin’ in California.

In response to concerns voiced by truckers and truck-dependent businesses about their ability to comply with the regulation, CARB is considering amendments that they hope will keep many drivers from having to pull off the road.

Regulation Overview

California’s Truck and Bus Regulation applies to nearly all diesel fueled trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 14,000 pounds that are privately or federally owned and for privately and publicly owned school buses.  Other public fleets, solid waste collection trucks and transit buses are already subject to other regulations and are not part of the Truck and Bus regulation.

Under the regulation, lighter vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) 26,000 lbs. or less need to be upgraded to 2010 model year (MY) engines as shown in the table below. 

Schedule for Lighter Trucks and Buses

Engine Year

2010 MY Engine

1995 and older

January 1, 2015


January 1, 2016


January 1, 2017


January 1, 2018


January 1, 2019

2003 and older

January 1, 2020


January 1, 2021


January 1, 2023

Heavier vehicles with a GVWR more than 26,000 lbs. need to be upgraded according to the compliance schedule below. 

Schedule for Heavier Trucks and Buses

Engine Year

PM Filter

2010 MY Engine


Not required

January 1, 2015


Not required

January 1, 2016


January 1, 2012

January 1, 2020


January 1, 2013

January 1, 2021


January 1, 2014

January 1, 2022

2007 or newer

Already Equipped

January 1, 2023

There is also a phase-in option available for fleets that reported certain information about all of their heavier trucks to CARB starting January 31, 2012.  By January 1, 2023, nearly all trucks and buses will need to have 2010 model year engines or equivalent.1

Pending Lawsuits

On December 9, 2013, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, against the California Air Resources Board, becoming the third party to have an active suit against CARB over its Truck and Bus Regulation.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Suit

OOIDA has asked for an injunction saying the regulation is unconstitutional.  They contend that the CARB regulation violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits state laws and regulations that discriminate against or unduly burden interstate commerce.

The brief filed by OOIDA states the CARB regulation has caused, and will continue to cause, irreparable harm to truckers who have been shut out of the California market because of the costs of compliance.  The cost to comply with the regulation, for doing even a small amount of business in California, runs into thousands of dollars. Failure to buy and retrofit trucking equipment as required by the CARB regulation will effectively exclude out-of-state truckers from the California trucking market unless they are willing to face fines and penalties for noncompliance.2

OOIDA asks that the court permanently enjoin CARB from implementing or enforcing the Truck and Bus Regulation against the plaintiffs and other truck owners or operators who reside and/or conduct business primarily outside California.

Alliance for California Business Suit

On November 11, 2013, the Alliance for California Business (ACB) filed a complaint in Glenn County Superior Court over the mandated diesel particulate filters (DPFs) that can cost upwards of $20,000 per truck.3  ACB represents carriers and other business owners who want the court to enjoin implementation of portions of CARB’s Truck and Bus Regulation.  According to a statement from ACB, “[T]he complaint includes allegations that CARB executive officers failed to disclose to the public vital information that it had about the defective design of the DPFs that the state agency is requiring California truck owners to install.”

Specifically, ACB states:

“The DPF is mechanically unsound causing trucks to break down on highways and require days (sometimes weeks) of repair efforts to get them back on road.  The DPF has caused fires and destroyed truck engines.  This device is not designed for use on short distance travel routes, and commonly malfunctions as a result.”

ACB points out that truck owners qualify for assistance in purchasing the filters, but relief is not provided for damage that occurs from the devices or for income lost while the truck undergoes repair.

A May 9, 2014 case management conference is set for the alliance and CARB before Glenn County Superior Court Judge Peter Twede.4

California Construction Trucking Association Suit

The California Construction Trucking Association (CCTA) continues to pursue federal litigation over CARB’s aggressive regulation of the industry.  The case began in February 2011, when CCTA filed a suit against CARB claiming California violated the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, which prohibits states from enacting or enforcing “a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier… or any motor private carrier, broker, or freight forwarder with respect to the transportation of property.”5

On December 19, 2012, Judge England rendered a decision that the Court “…cannot retain jurisdiction over this action in light of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the Truck and Bus Regulation as part of California’s State Implementation Plan.”6  The case is currently on appeal with the 9th Circuit Court.

Proposed Amendments

On March 5, 2014, in response to concerns about meeting state-imposed deadlines for replacing or installing emissions-control equipment on diesel trucks, CARB proposed a number of amendments to the Truck and Bus Regulation.  While the amendments will give many truck owners alternative compliance pathways so they can continue to operate their current non-compliant trucks – there will be a hitch if some compliance pathways are chosen.  It is important to note that the proposed amendments are subject to change, and are currently not in effect.   

  • Expanded Good Faith Effort Provision: CARB is proposing to allow up to three vehicles in any fleet (including a single-truck owner-operator) to defer retrofitting or truck replacement until January 1, 2018 if they are denied a loan to retrofit or upgrade their truck. To qualify for this new provision, they MUST have been denied a trusted loan for a DPF or truck replacement between July 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014. They must then register with CARB no later than January 31, 2015.
    Note: This option will be enticing for many truck owners that currently are unable to comply with the regulation.  However, owners that use this option would be required to replace their current truck with one containing a 2010 or newer engine by January 1, 2018.
  • Low-Mileage Construction Truck (LMCT) Extension: CARB is proposing to re-name this provision the Low-Mileage Work Trucks extension to better reflect which vehicles can be included. All vehicles registered in this extension will be allowed to operate up to 20,000 miles annually instead of the current limit of 15,000 miles for specific trucks. While fleets get more flexibility to keep older trucks, single-truck owners still only have until January 1, 2016 to operate their truck.
  • Low-Use Vehicle Exemption: The current regulation exempts vehicles that travel less than 1,000 miles per year (and less than 100 hours/year for power take off use) within California’s border from meeting the emission reductions requirements of the regulation.  The amendments permanently eliminate the hourly limit and, until 2020, also include vehicles that travel fewer than 5,000 total miles per compliance year, regardless of where the vehicle is operated.
  • Small-Fleet Options: Current regulation defines a small-fleet as three or fewer trucks.  These fleets currently were required to have one-truck in compliance by retrofitting or truck replacement on January 1, 2014, the second truck on January 1, 2015, and the third by January 1, 2016.  The proposed amendments extend the compliance schedule for small fleet owners to allow them to upgrade the second and third truck in the fleet every other year.  The chart below shows the current and proposed compliance schedule.

Small Fleet Option

Existing Schedule

Proposed Schedule

First Truck

January 1, 2014

January 1, 2014

Second Truck

January 1, 2015

January 1, 2016

Third Truck

January 1, 2016

January 1, 2018

  • NOx Area Extensions: For those operating in NOx-exempt areas, the proposed amendments would expand the number of regions and extend the compliance schedule to be phased in from Jan. 1, 2015, to Jan. 1, 2020.  Any vehicle that operates exclusively in NOx exempt regions would continue to be exempt from the requirements to upgrade to 2010 model engines if the vehicle is equipped with a retrofit or DPF.  Owners of one truck would need a PM filter by 2017, two-truck owners by 2015 and 2019, and three-truck owners by 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Existing NOx exempt areas include the following counties: Alpine, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Monterey, Plumas, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Trinity, Tehama, and Yuba.  Portions of Sonoma County are also included.

Proposed additional areas would include: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Inyo, Eastern Kern (that portion of Kern County within the Eastern Kern Air Pollution Control District), Mariposa, Mono, Nevada, Northern Sutter, Tuolumne and the Placer and El Dorado County portion of the Tahoe Air Basin.

Next Steps

The amendments are currently in the midst of the 45-day public comment period, and are certain to be controversial with environmental groups and truck owners who have already complied with the regulation by purchasing new or newer equipment or by retrofitting with a diesel particulate filter.  Individuals wishing to submit a comment on the proposed amendments can do so here.  The deadline for submitting comments is April 21st at 5 p.m.  The amendments are expected to be considered by the full CARB Board at their April 24, 2014 meeting. 

For more information on this report or other Environmental Quality issues, contact Amber Alexander, Senate Republican Office of Policy at 916/651-1501.

1 California Air Resources Board.  Final Order Truck and Bus Regulation.  Eff. December 14, 2011.
2“OOIDA sues CARB over Truck and Bus Regulation.”  December 6, 2013.
3ACB Press Release.  November 11, 2013.
4 Dunn, Jill.  “CARB sued for allegedly not disclosing defects of particulate filters.”  November 25, 2013.
5 49 U.S. Code § 14501 - Federal authority over intrastate transportation.
6 CCTA v. CARB, 2:11-cv-00384-MCE-GGH (E.D. CA 2012).