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CARB and engine makers cut a deal

After months of acrimony between the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA), the two have agreed to flexibly implement the state’s toughest-in-the-nation emissions rules — even if someone else sues to stop the regulations.

The Advanced Clean Truck Rule, which would remove internal combustion engines from California roads by 2045, remains in place. But California now will follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans for reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions in 2027 instead of its plan to require lower NOx emissions beginning in 2024.

A single standard for emissions has been elusive. California received a waiver to the EPA regulations that allowed it to implement its own rules. OEMs said they agreed with the tougher standards but lacked sufficient time to make compliant engines by next year.

“The unprecedented collaboration between California regulators and truck manufacturers marks a new era in our zero-emission future, where we work together to address the needs of both the trucking industry and the Californians who deserve to breathe clean air,” CARB Chair Liane Randolph said in a news release. 

Flexibility in implementing new emissions rules 

The EMA said the agreement provides the flexibility it needs to meet the standards for reducing soot-causing NOx emissions.

“Through this agreement, we have aligned on a single nationwide nitrogen oxide emissions standard, secured needed lead time and stability for manufacturers, and agreed on regulatory changes that will ensure continued availability of commercial vehicles,” EMA President Jed Mandel said.

The alignment of CARB with the EPA on the 2027 timing for toughening NOx regulations gives manufacturers time to test and validate technology to reduce NOx, such as Tula Technologies’ Dynamic SkipFire, shown in testing with Cummins Inc. to cut NOx emissions by 71%.

Truckers feared that different rules for California, and states that follow them, could create a patchwork of rules inhibiting interstate commerce.

“We appreciate CARB’s commitment to providing flexibility as we transition to zero emissions, and for their efforts to align with EPA’s 2027 standards,” said Shelley A. Knust, Cummins vice president of product compliance and regulatory affairs.

Under the Clean Truck Partnership, CARB agreed to:

  • Align with EPA’s 2027 regulations for NOx emissions and modify elements of the 2024 NOx emission regulations for which manufacturers will provide offsets as needed to meet California’s emission targets.
  • Provide no less than four years lead time and at least three years of regulatory stability before imposing new requirements. 
  • Support the development of necessary zero emissions vehicle infrastructure.

Truck manufacturers committed to meet CARB’s zero-emission and criteria pollutant regulations in the state regardless of any attempts by other entities to challenge California’s authority. 

ATA might be ready to rumble

That may include the American Trucking Associations, which said in a statement that manufacturers should not be “strong-armed” into a compromise like the Clean Truck Partnership.

“Our association represents motor carrier members — the paying customers who will inherit the costs of this agreement — and we will not roll over nor relinquish our right to litigate with any party when our interests are threatened,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement.

“It is clear that America has lost its way when the government bullies the private sector to succumb to unachievable timelines, targets and technologies.”

The EPA said equipment needed to meet the new restrictions would increase costs to truckers by $8,304 per long-haul single unit truck.

Truck makers take on EPA’s zero-emissions carbon rule

Congress overturns nitrogen oxide emissions rule for trucks

Trucking industry worried after EPA issues final rule on NOx emissions

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.