With the first requirements of California’s Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rule set to go in effect in just a few weeks, the California Trucking Association (CTA) has asked a federal court to block the regulation’s implementation.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, requests both a preliminary and permanent injunction to stop the California Air Resources Board (CARB) from enforcing the rule.
CTA officials hinted in recent months that such a suit might be coming.
The CTA argues that California exceeded its authority in creating the ACF. The rule mandates a phase-out of internal combustion engines (ICE) in trucks by 2040. But on a more pressing timeline, no ICE-powered trucks could be added to the state’s drayage registry after Jan. 1, 2024; they must be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).
The CTA’s arguments are:
- CARB never received a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency allowing it to implement the CTA with its standards on emissions that are stricter than federal rules. By contrast, the CTA’s sister regulation, the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, got an EPA waiver earlier this year. (The suit notes that there is litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia over that waiver.)
- The ACF violates the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (F4A), which coincidentally is a key argument used by the CTA in its lawsuit to block the implementation of the state’s independent contractor law, AB5, in California’s trucking sector. F4A, a law that dates back to the early 1990s, blocks a state from passing a regulation that impacts a “price, route or service” offered by a trucking company.
The other claims in the lawsuit are generally linked in one way or another to these two critiques and essentially argue that California wildly exceeded its authority in passing ACF.
“Instead of providing an assurance of clear and compliant regulations, the California Air Resources Board has promulgated the ACF regulations, which expands California’s regulatory authority well beyond its borders and establishes such untenable mandates that CARB itself has already been compelled to informally promise certain provisions will not be enforced,” the CTA suit states. CARB’s actions “represent a vast overreach that threatens the security and predictability of the nation’s goods movement industry.”
The suit notes that ACF may have had a pathway to legal federal approval. But as it notes, “EPA may, but has not, granted a waiver for CARB to adopt and enforce a regulation like ACF. While CARB may claim otherwise, ACF cannot be enforced until such waiver is granted.”
As far as CTA’s charge that ACF violates F4A, the CTA says ACF “creates precisely the type of patchwork the F4A was designed to avoid, as motor carriers must modify their services and routes to support ZEVs both inside and outside California. The impact on the nation’s logistics industry of ACF’s requirements would be nothing short of disastrous.”
CTA says in the suit that a state can implement its own requirements on the sale of vehicles in its borders, “but only when those mandates strictly comply with federal requirements.” It cites a provision of the Clean Air Act: the Clean Fuel Fleet Program (CFFP). But CTA says there are stricter guidelines under the CFFP on what a state can do than CARB has adopted in the ACF, in violation of what it says was “Congress’ carefully calibrated balance between federal and state authority over fleet vehicle emissions.”
CTA’s arguments regarding federal supremacy take several forms.
“In no form has the legislature granted to CARB, or Congress granted to EPA, the authority to adopt a regulation with such sweeping power over the California economy and by virtue of the interstate nature of California’s trucking industry, the national economy,” CTA argues.
That passage is under a request for relief because of the CTA’s view that the Clean Air Act preempts the ACF rule. But the question of federal supremacy shows up throughout the lawsuit.
CTA rips CARB for confusion under its claim that the ACF violates due process. “ACF presents no clear regulatory scheme that can be understood by regulated parties, nor even by CARB itself,” the suit says. “The voluminous record during ACF rulemaking demonstrates the clear confusion regulated parties have in understanding their obligations under the rule.”