CARB to review diesel engine emissions policies

The California Air Resources Board on April 23 began to revise its strategy for the cleanup of on- and off-road diesel engines by directing staff to return in September with specific proposals to provide additional flexibility.

“We fully recognize that the economy has had an effect on the owners and operators of big rigs, buses and construction equipment, and has also resulted in emissions from these vehicles being lower than we expected,” says CARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “We are committed to taking those impacts into consideration for our diesel cleanup program.”

CARB has asked staff to draft changes to the regulations that will mitigate the potential effects of an unfavorable economy on affected businesses, while keeping in mind the need to protect public health, meet federal clean air deadlines and continue moving forward even through uncertain times. CARB also directed staff to consider approaches to give credit to firms that already have complied with the regulations, and to examine the possibility of additional loans and incentive funding for the program.

CARB staff presented an update on diesel emissions estimates and the approach for incorporating new information on diesel fuel use, emissions factors and equipment use; a new emissions estimate will be used in the rule revision process. CARB staff will conduct a series of workshops in May and June in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Fresno with stakeholders and the public to solicit information about proposed revisions to the regulations that will be presented to CARB in September.

The agency already has extended deadlines for off-road equipment owners through AB8 2X, including delayed compliance and credits for those who have reduced their fleet size or operating hours in response to the recession. In addition, CARB will continue its program of financial support to help owners and operators of these trucks and equipment. More than $100 million in Proposition 1B funds have been allocated for cleaning up on-road diesel trucks through retrofits or replacement. Additional funds have been made available through the Carl Moyer Grant Program, along with loans via AB 118 and federal stimulus funds.