CARB seeks input on new committee to implement latest emissions regs

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, July 27, 2023:

Public meeting upcoming in California, seeking input for CARB's emissions committee

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced Wednesday it is requesting industry participation for a public meeting to discuss the formation of a Truck Regulation Advisory Committee (TRAC) for its Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) regulation.

The meeting will be held in-person at 10 a.m. local time on Aug. 22 in Sacramento, and via Zoom. Remote participants must register via Zoom. The meeting will be recorded and made available on the ACF website. In-person location: California's EPA headquarters at 1001 I Street in Sacramento.

The ACF regulation has heavy implications for motor carriers in the state, as it bars truck manufacturers from selling any combustion-engine trucks in the state by 2036. The 100% manufacturer sales requirement was moved up to 2036 from the original 2040 start date. 

[Related: CARB playing hardball: Board votes to ban diesel sales in 2036]

CARB said it is committed to implementation of the ACF regulation. At this meeting, staff will discuss and solicit feedback on the new committee member commitments and expectations, future meeting format and schedule and potential subcommittees. Staff also will solicit input on topics the committee would like to address, and how to plan and organize its future activities.

"We are looking to the TRAC to help fine-tune our outreach, training and implementation strategies and materials, as well as increase awareness of the needs and opinions of affected stakeholders," CARB said. "The purpose of the TRAC is to identify best practices for implementing the regulation consistent with the regulation language and facilitating constructive dialogue to address key rule implementation issues."

California recently announced a compromise with the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) and North American OEMs regarding EPA 2027 and future regulations. The state's ACF regulation is independent of that agreement and was announced earlier. 

[Related: CTA's Shimoda: Start working on CARB regulation requirements now]

Heartland, subsidiaries seek driver-training regs exemption

Heartland Express (CCJ Top 250, No. 45) and two of its subsidiaries -- Millis Transfer and CFI -- are requesting an exemption from the entry-level driver training (ELDT) regulations that require a behind-the-wheel training instructor to have at least two years of experience driving a commercial motor vehicle or two years of experience as an in-cab commercial driving instructor.

Millis conducts training for all three companies and describes its trainer evaluation process as “second to none.”

The companies said the two-year experience requirement “impedes their ability to hire enough trainers to meet the demand.” They added that they believe Millis’ pre-ELDT policy of a one-year minimum experience for its over-the-road (OTR) trainers and its “extensive” safety evaluation of those trainers has allowed it to be a positive contributor to highway safety. 

Millis reported an estimated student enrollment of 500 to 700 students for 2023 for all three companies. Its 131 trainers currently spend up to 90 days with a student before letting them drive solo, and because it can't hire enough trainers, Millis said it will have to turn some students away.

The proposed exemption would allow Millis to continue its one-year minimum training experience requirement so that it can add another 90-150 trainers to its current group. Should the exemption be granted, these additional trainers would be allowed to conduct behind-the-wheel training without meeting the two-year minimum requirement for instructors. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently denied an exemption request related to its requirements for theory instructors. 

FMCSA now seeks public comment on the Heartland Express/Millis exemption request. Input can be offered for the next 30 days at www.regulations.gov by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2023-0081.

[Related: FMCSA denies operator's request for 5/5 split-sleeper exemption

New freight network connects carriers directly to shippers

PCS Software, an AI-powered transportation management software system (TMS) for shippers and carriers, announced the launch of FreightNet, a network designed to foster direct connections between big-brand shippers and carriers.

FreightNet, a free-to-use network, allows carriers to register and share their preferred lanes and assets. Carriers that meet PCS quality standards will be visible to PCS Software's shipper clientele, enabling carriers to maximize exposure with shippers, connect with leading brands, and build more profitable relationships, PCS said.

PCS shipper customers can leverage the ability to connect with quality carriers within their TMS or register their private fleet to gain visibility into backhaul opportunities and reduce empty miles. Direct access to carriers eliminates confusion and enables more effective partnerships, the company added. FreightNet aims to promote sustainable logistics practices by improving transparency between the carrier and the shipper.

[Related: Work-life balance as an owner-operator: You have to build it]