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Trade group withdraws lawsuit against CARB

Aug. 12, 2022
Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association had sought to hold the California regulator’s new emissions standards to the federal lead-time requirement of four model years, but expressed satisfaction that EPA will do that.

A trade group that represents truck and engine manufacturers dropped a lawsuit it filed in May against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) after federal regulators stepped in to mediate whether CARB must give OEMs four years of lead time to phase in new emissions technologies.

Recent smog goals set by CARB cut that lead time in half, so the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA), in a suit filed May 27, sought to hold CARB to federal law, which requires four model years of lead time. The heavy-duty equipment makers argued they need that much time to develop new technologies to meet the stricter emissions limits.

See also: Manufacturers sue CARB over truck emissions rule lead time

“Congress unambiguously mandated the minimum four full model year lead-time requirement in the Clean Air Act for both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and CARB,” the trade group said in an Aug. 11 release announcing that it was abandoning the lawsuit.

“EPA has now commenced its review of CARB’s preemption waiver request and held a hearing that included discussion of the lead-time issue. As a result, EMA has chosen to withdraw its lawsuit without prejudice.”

EMA President Jed R. Mandel added, “EMA filed the lawsuit to achieve clarity and prompt resolution on the lead-time issue—something all stakeholders should want. EMA was never challenging CARB’s independent right to regulate. At the time we filed, EPA had not yet initiated its review of CARB’s request for a waiver. We are pleased that EPA has now solicited public comment and the review process is underway. We encourage EPA to act promptly and confirm EPA’s own long-standing and explicit analysis finding in 1994 that the Clean Air Act’s four-year lead-time requirement applies to CARB.”

EPA held a virtual public hearing June 29-30 to provide interested parties the opportunity to present data, views, or arguments concerning proposed CARB regulations, including California's Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) and its Omnibus Low NOx regulation.

EMA’s Aug. 11 release added, “EMA members support the nationwide implementation of more stringent tailpipe standards and are committed to transitioning the commercial vehicle market to zero-emission technologies. EMA also is committed to working with both EPA and CARB to reduce and ultimately eliminate NOX emissions from heavy-duty on-highway engines and vehicles.”

CARB often ahead of federal smog rules

On Dec. 22, CARB adopted the Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Omnibus Regulation, a package of stringent emission standards, test procedures, and other emission-related requirements applicable to new heavy-duty on-highway engines and vehicles sold in California. The CARB regulation requires heavy-duty engine and vehicle manufacturers to comply with the new standards on Jan. 1, 2024, providing manufacturers with just two years of lead time, according to EMA.

In recognition of California’s unique air-quality issues, the federal Clean Air Act allows California to establish its own unique standards and not be subject to the act’s preemption provisions, provided California meets certain requirements—including giving heavy-duty on-highway engine and vehicle manufacturers four full model years of lead time.

After EMA announced it was dropping its lawsuit, environmental advocates, which had accused the trade group of filing the suit not as a way to protest the shorter lead time but as a mechanism to try and block the new CARB standards altogether, responded on Aug. 11.

See also: Electrification at a 'tipping point' as fleets explore adoption

“This is the least that the trucking industry can do to support cleaner trucks that will save lives in the communities that have experienced environmental racism and marginalization for generations,” said Leslie Aguayo, climate equity program manager for The Greenlining Institute. “We need them to do more. We need them to stop calling on the EPA to deny the Clean Air Act waiver that would allow stronger clean and electric truck standards to move forward at the state level and to stay out of state processes. These communities have a right to breathe clean air.”

“Truck makers tried to have it both ways, claiming they wanted to cut pollution but using their trade association to fight meaningful emissions standards by California,” added Patricio Portillo, a clean-vehicles advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This is a positive step, but truck makers have a long way to go to show that they support the transition to cleaner vehicles. Now they should get behind the wheel and actively drive strong standards forward.”

“Public pressure on truck manufacturers and their lobbyists is working, and for good reason—communities across the country cannot afford any further delay in getting polluting trucks off roads,” said Hieu Le, senior campaign representative with Sierra Club. “We’ll keep pushing EMA and its member companies to fully back all federal and state regulations for cleaner trucks.”

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl | Managing Editor

I'm back to the trucking and transportation track of my career after some time away freelancing and working to cover the branches of the U.S. military, specifically the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism there with several years of experience inside and outside business-to-business journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit FleetOwner magazine and our website as well as report and write all kinds of news that affects trucking and transportation.

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