The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) is suing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regarding a regulation that is due to go into effect in January 2024.
On December 22nd, 2021, CARB established the Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Omnibus Regulation, which places higher emission status on heavy-duty trucks sold in California. It was set to go into motion at the start of 2024, giving manufacturers two years of lead time.
This is where the EMA establishes a foot in its lawsuit: it is not arguing that the higher standards are unconstitutional or wrong in any way, just that CARB is not following the federal Clean Air Act by giving manufacturers four years of lead time, meaning the deadline should have been January 1st, 2026 at the earliest.
The pending lawsuit is kicking up a lot of dust (pun intended), with environmental activists such as the National Resources Defense Council calling it “A self-defeating lawsuit that will harm manufacturers.” The NRDC says it believes CARB will win, as numerous similar regulations have been implemented in fewer than four years unchallenged.
Even if the dispute ends with the Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Omnibus Regulation going into effect, it may have minimal effect on emissions in the Golden State. Because it applies to trucks sold in state borders rather than driven within them, little is stopping a trucker from purchasing a big rig in Sparks, Nevada and driving on I-80 across state lines.
CARB has numerous regulations in the pipeline to reduce emissions from commercial vehicles. One that may prove to be more effective is the one that slowly phases out older, more polluting models. It (mostly) prohibits the driving of these vehicles, rather than just transfer of ownership, within state lines, so it is much more likely to go off without a hitch, as it has since its establishment in 2008. With the average age of all United States vehicles exceeding 12 years, it is hard to argue that CARB will do more environmental good with shunning 2025 models than it would with shunning 2010 models.
If EMA wins the lawsuit, CARB may work around it by restarting the clock on the rule to four years after the verdict. As with all lawsuits, we will have to wait and see what happens.
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