CARB Off-Road Diesel Regulations Start

By Loren Faulkner | September 28, 2010

The controversial California Air Resources Board (CARB) Off-Road Diesel Regulations were officially written into California law on June 15, 2008. (Article 4.8, section 2449). View the entire set of regs at:

The regulations are aimed at drastically reducing diesel particulates and fumes, allegedly sparing the lives of thousands each year.

Even though some portions of the law must receive EPA approval, CARB will enforce registration portions of the rules.


Signage must be placed on the side of each vehicle to make spotting by CARB enforcement agents easier. In addition, each fleet’s engine must be meticulously monitored, and paperwork submitted regularly to Sacramento.

As Seth Hammond, president of Southern California Contractors Association (SCCA), has said, "I can tell you from personal experience that the (current) portable engine regulations paperwork costs my fleet of 19 mobile cranes about four hours a week right now. I can’t imagine the cost for a big scraper fleet under the off-road rule."

Industry experts say the recordkeeping and reporting requirements alone will cost the construction industry $65.6 million every year, based on CARB’s estimate of cost from the Portable Engine Registration Program of $400 per engine.


CARB administrators have said non-compliance may cost $10,000 per day, per violation, but would probably start at only $500 per day per violation. The entity has petitioned the state legislature to provide increased funding for hiring more inspectors.


During the formulation process of the regulations, CARB virtually ignored the advice of multiple contractors, engineers and construction industry experts such as AGC, EUCA, SCCA, and CIAQC (Construction Industry Air Quality Coalition) (

Their contention had been that the costs to enforce the regulations are exorbitant, and that the time line for becoming compliant is not viable.

Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, summed up the construction industry’s thinking last month in a comment on the passage of CARB’s regs:

"This is a tragic example of what can happen when government regulators turn a blind eye to the economic and technical obstacles to their admittedly worthy goals. AGC members share California’s interest in protecting the environment, but they equally appreciate the need to maintain and improve the state’s infrastructure. If you cripple the construction industry, you put everything from roads and bridges to schools, hospitals and other facilities at very great risk."

CIAQC had argued the following during the CARB hearings, to no avail:

  • The financial resources don’t exist. It will cost at least $13 billion to meet these targets.
  • The technology doesn’t exist. Manufacturers cannot yet produce the engines needed to meet the targets.
  • There is not enough time to meet these targets. Even if the technology existed, the demand for 165,000 new pieces of equipment would still far exceed the supply.

The regulations would have a detrimental impact upon the cost and timing of new construction authorized by the voters in the infrastructure bonds approved last November.

Other States May Follow CARB

Other states are expected to follow in the footsteps of California. According to the EPA Green Book (, the following states have similar air pollution problems and may adopt California’s regs, eventually: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.