- Special to The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2013

California rang in the New Year by placing certain truck engines, trailers, tires and even entire vehicles on its environmental out list — requiring motor carriers to spend tens of thousands of dollars on new equipment that may never meet the state’s ambitious objectives.

The new rules apply to trucks registered in other states — and even other countries.

“The state is forcing certain trucking companies and operators to make investments that are going to add cost with no return with regard to fuel efficiency, and therefore no impact on their desired policy operative,” said Steve Laskowski, senior vice president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

The regulations are part of the California Statewide Truck and Bus Rule, actually a lengthy set of rules on a staggering enforcement schedule approved by the California Air Resources Board in 2008.

The new regulations affect about 1 million trucks, according to Karen Caesar, information officer for CARB.

Trucks and buses weighing more than 13 tons with engines built from 2002 to 2004 must upgrade their equipment or install diesel soot filters.

Similarly, school buses, utility vehicles and government-owned trucks and buses greater than 7 tons must “retrofit with the best available ARB-verified” soot filters or be upgraded.

Owners of transportation refrigeration trucks with engines built before 2006 had to replace or upgrade those engines by Dec. 31.

Beginning Jan. 1, older-model tractors that pull trailers at least 53 feet long must be equipped with tires with low rolling resistance. All sleeper-cab tractors and trailers built after 2010 must have aerodynamic devices such as side skirts.

Ms. Caesar said the rules are important to protect Californians from the toxins found in diesel exhaust, which the California Scientific Review Panel found to cause cancer in 1998. She said the toxins are also associated with asthma and other respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

Mr. Laskowski said that while he appreciates California’s efforts to guard the public’s health, complying with the rules is just not financially possible under current economic conditions.

CARB’s new emissions rules could raise state gas prices by $2.22 a gallon by 2020 — a 50 percent increase, according to a California Trucking Association study published in April. The study also found that the rules could cost California more than 600,000 jobs, $68.5 billion in Gross Domestic Product and $21.7 billion in lost income between 2015 and 2020.

Meeting the standards will cost the trucking industry $1 billion a year, according to Mike Shaw, spokesman for the California Trucking Association.

Robert McClernon, former president of the California Construction Trucking Association, said the regulations will force 60 percent of small trucking businesses to close In California. About 40 percent of the state’s small trucking companies have closed since 2011, he told The Washington Times in an interview.

He closed his own McClernon Trucking last year — after 35 years in business — because he could not afford to replace his trucks.

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