CARB to Conduct Hearing on Proposed Off-Road-Diesel Rule

December 6, 2010

On December 16/17, 2010, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will conduct hearings in Sacramento to consider significant modifications to the state’s In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation.

According to CARB, the proposed changes in the controversial regulation were prompted by three major factors:

1) The decline in employment and revenue affecting the construction industry and the subsequent need for economic relief in fleets subject to the regulation;

2) Recognition that “past and future emissions from off-road vehicles are significantly lower than previously estimated, due both to new data and to a reduction in activity resulting from the recession;”

3) The need to modify the regulation to provide “an opportunity to simplify and streamline the regulation, as well as to seek ways to offer fleets more flexibility in how they choose to reduce their emissions, for example, by choosing to turn over to newer cleaner vehicles rather than apply exhaust retrofits.”

The proposed changes in the regulation, says CARB, will “provide a path to compliance” without any required exhaust-after-treatment retrofits and will lower costs associated with compliance, while still progressing toward reduced emissions and cleaner air.

Here are highlights of the major modifications:

+ Compliance will be delayed by four year for all fleets. Large fleets (greater than 5,000 horsepower) were originally required to comply by March 2010, but that date is now January 2014. Fleets that did comply by the original date by replacing equipment and retrofitting exhaust after-treatment are exempt from the 2014 date. Medium fleets (2,501 to 5,000 horsepower) now have until January 2017 to comply, and small fleets (2,500 horsepower or less) need not comply until January 2019.

+ Retrofitting is no longer required to control particulate matter (PM); “fleets can meet requirements through turnover [of equipment],” says CARB. According to Mike Buckantz of Associates Environmental, “Small fleets will now have to consider NOx instead of PM, but that’s because nobody will be requiredto install retrofit devices to control PM. (You can still install them and get credit for them in the rule, if you want.)”

+ Lower annual requirements to clean up engines, “to no more than 5 to 10 percent of a fleet’s horsepower,” says CARB. (The original target was 28 to 30 percent.)

+ Double credits are given for early retrofits.

+ The definition of “low-use” is changed from 100 hours to 200 hours.

+ To simplify compliance for the smallest fleets, those with less than 500 horsepower, Tier 0 and Tier 1 engines can be phased out beginning in 2019, “rather than deal with fleet averages.”

+ The modifications will achieve greater NOx benefits in later years. According to Buckantz, “NOx Fleet Average and Best Available Control Technology (BACT) requirements will remain in place until January 1, 2024 for large and medium fleets and January 1, 2029 for small fleets. The end-date Fleet Average Targets are more stringent than those in the previous rule. As a result, at the end of the compliance period, there will somewhat more Tier-4 Interim and Tier-4 Final equipment required than under the previous rule.”

+ Equipment owners may receive credit for actions that clean up their fleets before the initial compliance date.

According to CARB, modification of the regulation will significantly reduce costs, down 97 percent in the initial five years (compared with costs that would have been incurred under the previous rule) and down approximately 72 percent over 20 years.

You can see the modified new rule and get added information at the following sites: