Many of California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles may cause headaches for small commercial fleet owners whose older trucks are difficult to retrofit in a cost effective manner.
According to the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. EPA, diesel engine emissions contribute to some 3,500 premature respiratory and cardiovascular deaths and thousands of hospital admissions annually in California. The complex mix of pollutants emitted by diesel engines include visible carbon particles, or “soot,” known as diesel PM. The diesel PM contains more than 40 cancer-causing substances and is the most common airborne toxic that Californians breathe.
In an effort to cut emissions, the Board has developed a 14-point program, the Diesel Risk Reduction Plan, to slash diesel emissions in the next decade. Other emission reduction plans for California’s commercial trucks include the 2010 Diesel Exhaust Emission Program, the Heavy Duty Vehicle Idling Emission Reduction Program, the Heavy Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction measure, and the Truck and Bus Regulation Reducing Emissions from Existing Diesel Vehicles measure.
This bevy of rules for commercial trucks passing through California makes it nearly impossible for fleets with older trucks to maintain compliance, Ken Gillies, truck engineering manager at GE Capital Fleet Services, says in a Fleet Owner article. Most larger fleets have replacement cycles that meet or exceed CARB standards, but private individuals and smaller fleet owners typically keep their trucks longer and will most likely feel the effects of the new ARB requirements. Agricultural businesses that operate cab over engine (COE) tractors with 57-foot trailers, for example, may have a difficult time retrofitting such models simply because they are no longer available.
While some fleets may configure some California trucks and other non-California trucks, the logistics of ensuring that a non-California truck doesn’t end up in California incurring fines could be difficult, Gillies says.
Eighteen other states are considering vehicle emission regulations similar to the CARB rules.