Calif. Board Revises Rule to Allow Truck Retrofits

The California Air Resources Board revised a draft regulation that will require retrofits and engine replacements for the estimated privately owned 300,000 diesel trucks and buses using state roadways beginning in 2012.

An earlier draft required truckers to replace two trucks in a nine-year span. Now, the rule relies more heavily on retrofits for the first two years of the regulation. Truckers will need to retrofit pre-2007 model year trucks with soot filters and then gradually modernize trucks beginning in 2012, so that ultimately all trucks are the cleanest, 2010 or newer models.

This draft regulation addresses the largest unregulated source of diesel emissions in the state. Between 2010 and 2020, the board estimates that the regulation will prevent 11,000 premature deaths associated with exposure to diesel exhaust and save roughly $500 million in health care costs during that same period.

"If passed by the board later this year, this regulation will save thousands of lives and help the hundreds of thousands more who suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments," said Board Chair Mary Nichols. "While we are sensitive to the economic impacts this measure poses to truckers, the public health benefits are far too great not to move forward."

This regulation is projected to cost the trucking industry somewhere between $3.6 billion to $5.5 billion from 2010 to 2021, which staff estimates will add less than a penny apiece to products hauled by these trucks that people buy, ranging from athletic shoes to television sets. The board is in the midst of allocating $1 billion in Proposition 1B funds, much of which will go toward helping truckers retrofit and replace trucks. Other entities, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and several California ports are offering financial assistance.

A recent study looking at the health impacts to Bay Area residents posed by diesel emissions estimates the yearly non-cancer health impacts resulting from exposure to port-related diesel particulate matter emissions in the area: 18 premature deaths (age 30 and older), 290 asthma attacks, 2,600 days of work loss, and 15,000 minor restricted activity episodes. Most of the risk comes from diesel particulate matter emissions from trucks traveling on nearby freeways and marine vessel traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area unrelated to the Port of Oakland.

Later this year, the board will consider adopting a regulation involving oceangoing vessel main engines to further reduce diesel soot.

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