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Industry group sues California over truck pollution regulation timing

Engine and Truck Manufacturers claims 2024 mandate ignores Congress’ intent

The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association is suing the California Air Resources Board for moving too quickly to implement new pollution regulations. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) is suing the California Air Resources Board for moving too quickly to implement pollution regulation changes in the state. 

The EMA claims in a lawsuit filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Central California that stringent emission standards, test procedures and other emission-related requirements adopted by the agency ignore the Clean Air Act provision that gives manufacturers at least four years to comply.

California adopted its Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Omnibus Regulation on Dec. 21. The new standards take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

The state received an exception under the Clean Air Act in 2013 allowing it to set its own emission standards because of persistent air pollution, much of it caused by nitrogen oxides and other emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks. But the exemption upheld a 1986 appellate court ruling in Washington, D.C., that set out the four-year development guideline.

“We acknowledge that the Clean Air Act gives CARB the authority to establish California specific emissions standards and regulations [but] CARB must follow Congress’ requirements,” Jed Mandel, EMA’s president, said in a press release. 

Smooth implementation on truck pollution regulations

“This lawsuit is simply to ensure that CARB follows all of the prescribed rules — one of which is intended to maximize the likelihood of the smooth and successful implementation of new emission standards.” 

In a statement, CARB declined specific comments on the merits of the suit but said “It is appalling that anyone would try to weaken this rule.”

In a blog post, the National Resources Defense Council sided with CARB and attacked truck and engine makers for hypocrisy in promoting zero tailpipe emission electric and hydrogen-powered trucks while lobbying to fight against tougher pollution regulations.

“Do they know that EMA is fighting on their behalf to undermine the future they profess to seek? If so, they should be ashamed. If not, these companies should make the EMA drop the lawsuit,” the NRDC blog said.

In an earlier scuffle between the EMA and CARB, the agency rebutted the trade group’s assertion that longer warranties on new engines, part of the omnibus regulation, would cost the industry more than it saved.

Two-front fight on truck pollution regulations

The EMA is also fighting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is finalizing phase 3 greenhouse gas rules for 2027 that would mirror NOx reductions California is seeking to implement sooner. The trade group wants the severity of the cuts spread out over a longer period of time.

The EPA received 600 submissions during a comment period that closed May 16. Some  comments said the changes the agency advocates would put small truckers out of business because of the additional costs of technology to meet the new regulations.

The trucking industry is not foot-dragging, the EMA said. It needs time to design multiple new engine and exhaust aftertreatment technologies for various niches, test the systems for durability and integrate them into chassis that customers are sure will meet their needs.

“We hope this matter will be resolved quickly so that manufacturers have the lead time and regulatory certainty needed to develop and build the products our customers — and our economy — depend on,” Mandel said.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.