CARB can enforce rule requiring aero add-ons to trailers, EPA says

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Updated Aug 12, 2014

Note: This story says only that the EPA gave CARB permission to enforce its rule on 2011 and later model trailers. However, it also granted CARB permission to require add-ons to 2011-2013 year-model tractors. Click here to read more on that. 

The California Air Resources Board has been granted permission by the federal government to enforce its requirement that trailers in the state be equipped with SmartWay-verified tires and other SmartyWay-verified equipment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last week.

CARB asked the EPA in June 2013 for a waiver of preemption to the EPA’s Clean Air Act, which the EPA granted last week, effectively allowing CARB to enforce its rules — more than four years after their effective date — requiring the use of certain tires and other devices that improve trailer aerodynamics and reduce fuel consumption.

CARB’s Heavy-Duty Tractor-Trailer Greenhouse Gas Regulations went into effect Jan. 1, 2010, and has a bevy of equipment requirements, but the preemption waiver granted by the EPA last week was specifically for 2011-2013 53-foot trailers running in the state.

Several trucking groups filed formal comments during the EPA’s public comment period on CARB’s request for the waiver, with nearly all stating opposition.

The American Trucking Associations, however, said it wouldn’t take a position on the waiver itself, but it did note that the four-year period between implementation of the rule and the actual enforcement go-ahead from the EPA puts carriers that did invest in what they thought were mandatory expenses at a competitive disadvantage.

“The fact there has been no enforcement to date has likely disadvantaged companies that made timely investments (due to higher initial technology costs) as well as those companies that have observed little to no fuel efficiency benefit from the mandated equipment,” ATA wrote in its formal comment.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, however, said CARB’s greenhouse gas rule places “unfair and unconstitutional burdens” on small fleets and one-truck owners who aren’t based in California.

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“…The regulation imposes arbitrary, expensive and inequitable burdens on OOIDA members residing outside of California,” the group wrote in its formal comments.

OOIDA estimates that carriers will have to spend between $7,520 and $9,325 (in 2008 dollars) to comply with the regulation.

CARB, however, says it estimates the cost to be around $1,250 per trailer. It also says the fuel savings achieved by the devices will offer an 18-month payback.

Both the California Construction Trucking Association and the California Trucking Association submitted comments asking the EPA to deny CARB’s request to enforce the rule.

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