California Court decision on diesel rule hits small fleets and farmers hard
SACRAMENTO - A decision by the Superior Court of California in Fresno today agreed with the California Trucking Association’s request to erase a range of amendments to the state’s major rule to clean up diesel trucks and buses. The case is not against the rule itself, which remains fully in effect, but the amendments adopted in 2014. The amendments provide badly needed flexibility to smaller fleets (three trucks or less), lower-use vehicles including those operated by small farmers, and fleets in some rural areas. ARB will immediately file an appeal, which will maintain the status quo while the case makes its way through the higher courts.
“California led the way by adopting our landmark regulation to clean up dirty trucks, and our air quality has benefited immensely,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “In 2014, we recognized the extreme economic pressures experienced by smaller trucking fleets and independent owners as they sought to comply by upgrading or purchasing new equipment. We responded by amending the regulation to make it more flexible for ‘the little guys’ to comply. This court decision negates those amendments and deals a profound blow to the smaller fleets, small farmers and independent owners.”
The lawsuit, filed by John R. Lawson Rack and Oil of Fresno, and the California Trucking Association (CTA) alleges ARB did not follow the proper procedures of the Administrative Procedures Act and the California Environmental Quality Act in adopting the amendments. CTA also alleges their members’ economic interests were harmed by them being undercut competitively by fleets who took advantage of the flexibility provisions.
“We strongly disagree with the court, and will file an appeal in all possible haste,” said Jack Kitowski, CARB head of the Mobile Source Division which oversaw the development, and is in charge of putting the regulation into effect on a daily basis. “We don’t want to see small fleets and farmers hurt by this decision,” he added.
As the case makes its way through the Court of Appeal process, ARB staff statewide will continue to enforce the regulation and will cite those vehicles found to be out of compliance.
Diesel exhaust contains a variety of harmful gases and more than 40 other known cancer-causing compounds. In 1998, California identified diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to cause cancer, premature death and other health problems.