The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted amendments to its Truck and Bus Regulation on Friday that it said will lend “new flexible compliance options” to owners of diesel-powered fleets, including smaller operators.

CARB said the changes, approved at a Board hearing, will “provide additional regulatory flexibility to small fleets, [fleets of] lower-use vehicles and fleets in rural areas that have made substantial progress towards cleaner air.”

In addition, CARB said the adopted amendments will enable fleets that have invested in cleaner, compliant equipment and trucks to use credits longer. What’s more, any vehicles retrofitted by 2014 will not have to be replaced until 2023.

“We recognize the enormous investments that many businesses have already made to clean up their equipment and abide by the terms of the regulation,” said CARB chairman Mary D. Nichols. “But we are also aware that, particularly for many rural areas of the state, economic recovery has been painfully slow and funding for improvements scarce.

“By providing limited additional time for certain fleets to comply, we believe that we’ll have higher compliance rates overall,” she continued. 

Nichols called the move “a difficult balance,” but said CARB believes that this is a “fair approach that offers flexibility to those who need it, while also rewarding those business owners who have already upgraded their vehicles to meet the requirements of the regulation.”

According to Nichols, while the amendments will potentially delay compliance for some, the measures will “still protect air quality, preserving 93% of the NOx (oxides of nitrogen) and diesel particulate matter (PM) benefits of the original regulation.”

CARB said the amendments include:

  • A longer phase-in period for diesel PM requirements for trucks that operate exclusively in certain rural areas with cleaner air
  • Additional time and incentive funding opportunities for small fleets
  • A new compliance option for owners who cannot currently afford compliance
  • Expansion of the low-use exemption and the construction truck extension
  • Recognition of fleet owners who have already complied by providing additional “useable life” for retrofit trucks and reducing near-term compliance requirements

CARB added that “these amendments will still ensure that, by 2020, nearly every truck in California will have a PM [particulate matter] filter, consistent with the goals of the Diesel Risk Reduction Plan.”

Those with questions on current regulatory requirements can go to CARB’s TruckStop website or call 866-6DIESEL or email to:  8666Diesel@arb.ca.gov.