In spite of calls for changes or delays in the pending 2010 CARB (California Air Resources Board) emissions requirements for diesel-powered vehicles, the regulations are still in place but the new reporting deadlines for certain types of fleets operating in the state are coming up in just a few months.

In an update issued by CARB on December 10, the first reporting deadline remains March 31, 2009 for fleets with qualifying agricultural vehicles; fleets that wish to take advantage of the vehicle retirement credits; fleets that operate two engine sweepers ;and fleets that have installed particulate filters and want to claim early credits. Agricultural fleets reporting on March 31, 2009 must provide the odometer reading of their vehicles as of January 1, 2010. The update was issued following a Board hearing on December 9, 2009.

During the meeting, CARB directed its staff to propose amendments to the Truck and Bus Regulation that would provide additional flexibility for fleets adversely affected by the economy. This direction included asking staff to evaluate alternatives that would still meet emission targets and to focus on smaller businesses. The Board also asked staff to consider changing the March 31, 2009 reporting date (except for agricultural fleets and fleets with two engine sweepers) to provide more time for fleets to submit their vehicle information.

Following the analysis, CARB noted that it will draft suggested amendments for review. The staff plans to hold public workshops early next year to obtain stakeholder input. Interested parties can register for a free updates newsletter.

Much of the criticism currently directed at CARB has indeed been largely a matter of economic circumstances. When the revised CARB rule was issued in December of 2008 requiring virtually all on-highway truck and bus owners that operate in the State of California to install diesel particulate filters on their equipment by 2014 and to replace engines older than model year 2010 between 2012 and 2022, freight levels were already plummeting. Now, after nearly two years of tough times, carriers’ cupboards are almost bare and they are carefully managing costs hoping to make it across the recovery finish line.

The review proposed by CARB would pertain only to the pending on-road Truck and Bus Regulation. But companies operating off-highway fleets have also asked CARB to reconsider the new regulations that are scheduled to go into effect for off-road vehicles, including construction equipment.

According to the Associated General Contractors (AGC), when CARB officials wrote the rule they estimated that construction employment in California would grow by 8,000 jobs per year between 2006 and 2014. They also anticipated that construction valuation would increase by $10 billion between 2007 and 2009. Instead, the state has lost 330,000 construction jobs since 2006 and seen a $13 billion drop in real GDP originating from the construction industry.

AGC has asked CARB to do two key things: delay the effective date for a new emissions rule until 2015 and use the emissions levels now proposed for small fleets for all fleets regardless of their size. The current proposed regulation establishes tougher limits with earlier compliance deadlines for large and medium fleets.

However, as previously reported by FleetOwner, the likelihood of CARB making any changes is slim. “ Nothing CARB did … changes anything about the rule, “ Clayton Boyce, vp of public affairs for the American Trucking Assns. (ATA), told FleetOwner. “That will be decided in April. And it is iffy even then that anything will be changed, especially if the economy recovers and the [economic] situation [for fleets] can be seen as improved. So, the board may see no reason to relax the rules then. “