CARB to redo health report; truck rule to still go into effect

The California Air Resources Board has decided to “adjust” its stance on the diesel truck and bus rule which requires truck owners to begin installing diesel exhaust filters on their vehicles by Jan. 1, 2011 with almost the entire fleet of trucks within California upgraded by 2014.

The rule was voted into place in December 2008 and set to go into effect on Jan. 2, 2010, and has received some criticism to date. It will still go into effect as planned, although the CARB board has voted to redo the report that was used as a basis for the rule. Initially, the report was written by Hien Tran, who it was later learned, falsified his credentials. Board member John Telles requested the rule be set aside until the report could be verified.

CARB, at its meeting on Wednesday night, voted to redo the report, although it declined Telles’ request to set aside the rule.

“With today’s set of actions, we confidently set out to revalidate the science supporting our rules and set up a process to allow for more flexibility for small businesses in the regulation given the down economy,” CARB chairman Mary D. Nichols said in a press release. “We take the employee misconduct very seriously but it should not affect an extremely important public health measure that has been extensively reviewed throughout the scientific community. We have tightened up our procedures to ensure an incident like this never happens again.”

In addition, the organization has “directed its staff … to return to the Board next April with a new provision that would provide truck fleets more flexibility in cleaning up their diesel emissions.” That decision was made due to the negative effect the recession has had on the industry, the organization said.

It is unlikely a new report will change the findings that led to the rule in the first place, as even Telles didn’t question the science behind the report. It is a little troublesome, although not unexpected given human nature, that Nichols is now saying CARB takes “employee misconduct very seriously” when, according to a story in the Fresno Bee, members of the organization knew Tran had misstated his credentials before the CARB board ever took up the rule in the first place.

Now CARB is trying to cover all its bases, which it should have done previously.