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Enforcement Delayed: CARB Grants Flexibility Amid Legal Battle Over Clean Fleets Rule

CARB Grants Flexibility Legal Battle
Photo Source: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has granted fleets flexibility in reporting requirements outlined in its upcoming Advanced Clean Fleets rule, scheduled to be implemented this year. 

In a letter dated December 27, CARB notified the California Trucking Association (CTA) that it would refrain from enforcing the reporting requirements and registration prohibitions for "high-priority or drayage fleets" until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) either grants a preemption waiver applicable to these provisions or deems a waiver unnecessary. The CTA had filed a federal lawsuit in October to block the rule.

The Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) regulation applies to trucks engaged in drayage operations at seaports and rail yards, fleets owned by government agencies, and "high-priority" fleets with gross annual revenue of $50 million or more or ownership of 50 or more vehicles. This regulation impacts medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicles, off-road yard tractors, and light-duty mail and package delivery vehicles.

CARB assured in the letter that its registration system would permit fleets to add new vehicles powered by internal combustion engines during the specified period. 

Additionally, the agency stated it would not take enforcement action against vehicles exceeding their "useful life periods," defined as trucks either 13 years old from the model year of their CARB or EPA engine certification or when the vehicle surpasses 800,000 vehicle miles or reaches 18 years from the model year of its CARB or EPA engine certification. This leniency will continue until the EPA grants a preemption waiver or determines that a waiver is unnecessary.

While encouraging compliance with the rule during the pending waiver request, CARB reserved the right to enforce the ACF regulation fully once a waiver is granted or deemed unnecessary. 

CARB Executive Officer Steven Cliff expressed appreciation for discussions with regulated parties, noting the understanding reached with the CTA to avoid legal motions during the ongoing litigation and expressing eagerness for continued discussions.

Cliff in the letter said, “In light of these representations from CARB, I understand CTA has agreed not to file a preliminary injunction motion seeking to enjoin enforcement of the challenged provision of the ACF regulation while the waiver request is pending before U.S. EPA.”

Cliff  added, “We appreciate the opportunity to discuss issues with regulated parties and other stakeholders. And we are pleased the parties were able to come to an understanding to avoid resource-intensive motion practice in this litigation. We look forward to continued discussions with CTA and its members.”

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