Wiggle room?
CARB workshop yields revised Truck and Bus Rule timetable, potential for more truck funding for small fleets

By Charlie Morasch, contributing writer

Attempting to help thousands of fleets comply with the Truck and Bus Regulation, the California Air Resources Board extended compliance time for many owner-operators and small trucking fleets during its April board meeting.

Truck owners with fleets of three trucks or fewer can wait until December 2016 to install diesel particulate filters if they can prove they were denied a loan.

For truck owners who rarely visit the Golden State, trucks that travel less than 1,000 miles annually in California are exempt from the rule. Trucks that travel 5,000 or less total miles annually in any state, including California, are exempt from the rule until 2020.

Before voting on the proposed changes to the rule, CARB heard from more than 100 members of the public who spent an entire business day airing their views on the changes. The public hearing revealed a divided trucking community that blamed CARB for pitting small fleets against large trucking companies, and those who complied against truck owners who have yet to upgrade their trucks.

“You guys have pitted us together, and now it’s turned into a battle,” said Doug Rocha.

Some speakers blamed owner-operators who didn’t comply for dragging down freight rates.

“Hey, they should come work for me,” said Bob Ramorino, president of Hayward, Calif.-based Roadstar Trucking. “They’d probably be better off.”

As he left the microphone, audience members could be heard shouting.

“There is no way in hell me and my husband are going to ever work for these companies that were promising jobs here,” said Stacey Erb, who runs a horse-hauling trucking company. “There’s a reason they need drivers.”

CARB had considered giving small fleets until 2018 to upgrade if they could prove they’d been rejected for a loan. Air Resources Board Member Sandra Berg proposed to allow small fleets the option of either purchasing a 2010 truck or an approved diesel particulate filter by 2016 if they couldn’t obtain a loan.

“That gives people almost two-and-a-half years,” said Berg, who said she owns a big rig for use with her small business. “The economy is recovering.”

Additional amendments include a longer phase-in period for trucks that operate exclusively in specified rural areas with cleaner air, and an adjusted compliance schedule for certain construction trucks.

Expanded funding proposed
According to a proposal by California Air Resources Board staff, CARB is considering lowering the required operating time in California for trucking companies from 75 percent to 51 percent. While trucks based on the other side of the country may not qualify, the move could make California and other West Coast-based trucks eligible.

CARB’s Carl Moyer Program has been in existence since 1998, and provides partial financing to help various diesel owners pay for vehicle upgrades and replacements.

The program now funds $69 million, with local state air quality management districts matching an additional $12 million.

The expansion of the Moyer Program was directed by CARB at its monthly board meeting April 24-25. The changes were encouraged by some at the meeting as a way to help small trucking fleets comply with the rule and continue operating in California.

According to the proposal, the revised program would focus on small trucking fleets of one to three trucks, and would require a minimum of 51 percent usage in California. The funding would go toward the replacement of trucks with Model Year 2006 and older engines.

At press time, CARB was considering up to $45,000 for vehicle replacement grants and up to $10,000 for retrofits. CARB planned to consider formally adopting changes to the Moyer Program at its July board meeting before announcing changes in August. LL