ARB, Contractors Agree on Changes to Equipment Clean-up Rule

October 11, 2010

Representatives from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Associated General Contractors of America trade organization today agreed on proposed changes to the state’s landmark “off-road” regulation that will offer affected businesses additional time and more flexible options for compliance.

“This marks a new chapter for California and its effort to clean up emissions from diesel engines. We applaud the AGC for showing leadership on this issue and recognizing that California needs to control all sources of diesel emissions,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols.

First adopted in July 2007, the rule affects the state's estimated 150,000 "off-road" vehicles used in construction, mining, airport ground support and other industries. It calls for installation of diesel soot filters and the replacement of older, dirtier engines with newer emission-controlled models to curb diesel exhaust. Improvements were originally scheduled to begin in March 2010 for larger fleets, with medium and small-sized fleets having staggered implementation through 2015.

“We worked closely with the Associated General Contractors using a common set of data and assumptions about emissions to develop a set of proposals that will be cost effective and improve air quality,” said Nichols. “Our efforts today recognize the severe financial hardships that many businesses are experiencing due to the recession, while also ensuring that we meet our clean air obligations under Federal law.”

The newly proposed amendments, which will be presented for approval at ARB’s December 16-17 hearing, would streamline the compliance process and offer businesses additional time and flexible options to meet requirements. They would also provide credits for efforts already made to reduce emissions, and incentivize continued early actions.

If approved, the changes will:

  • Delay start of requirements until January 1, 2014
  • Increase the number of “low-use” equipment exempted
  • Provide simpler compliance options for the smallest fleets
  • Extend benefits for businesses that comply before their deadline
  • Lower annual requirements to clean up engines

Other portions of the regulation that went into effect this year, including reporting, idling and equipment labeling requirements for all fleets, remain intact and are being enforced.

Diesel particulate matter, or diesel "soot," was identified as a toxic air contaminant in 1998. In 2000, the ARB established California's Diesel Risk Reduction Plan, which aims to reduce diesel emissions to 85 percent below 2000 levels by 2020. Other sources of diesel particulate matter such as port trucks, private fleet trucks, transit buses, cargo-handling equipment, trash trucks and ship engines have already been addressed through regulations, along with diesel fuel.

A recent ARB study, using peer-reviewed U. S. EPA methodology, found that very fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is responsible for 9,000 premature deaths in California, underscoring the need to address the health risks associated with this form of pollution.