As I was thumbing through my recent new copy of Western Transportation News (Westrk.org), a new bill on the chopping block caught my eye in regards to the CARB rules here in California. Ever since the inception of the CARB rules here in California, many have a bad taste in their mouth for “The Golden State” and some have even stopped wanting to run here all together. From the time these rules were in the planning stages, fights have been had and legal wars have been waged to stop or alter what can easily be seen as the phasing out of older trucks here in the state. I have had mixed feelings about this issue, wanting to have cleaner trucks on the road to help decrease a growing air pollution problem in major cities here, but also not wanting to see owner operators have to incur the added expense of upgrading their equipment to comply.
Now that the rules are real and being loosely enforced, many have at least had the advanced opportunity to apply for monetary aid towards purchasing compliant trucks or retro fit their old ones and register them with CARB to extend their usability. I look at it more from a business perspective in that those that waited it out for a last minute "Hail Mary", only to be let down with the rule actually coming to fruition, should now have to be on the same page as the rest of the proactive owner-operators that were early adopters making sure they had compliant equipment.
Sure, CARB sets up randomly at certain DOT inspection stations with their pickup trucks and white tents, but the rigs they ticket there are far from a drop in the bucket when it comes to non-compliant trucks still on California highways. Not that I am promoting or condoning the phasing out of older trucks, but not enforcing the CARB rules in a matter better than this only leads to an unfair advantage for those breaking the rules, over those who choose to be legitimate businesses and fully comply.
I see those who have the equipment payments on newer equipment and choose to operate legitimately constantly being undercut by non-compliant operators around here. This is where proposed bill "SB 174" comes into play, which will give the state an extra boost when it comes to weeding out non-compliant trucks on the road when the deadlines for phasing out are reached for already registered trucks beginning in 2020. It aims to restrict registration of non-compliant equipment and CARB would need to notify the DMV of any other non-compliant vehicles. One can only wonder if CARB would be able to notify the DMV of trucks that we’re not retrofitted with DPF filters to allow them to hold back registration from those California based motor carriers on their non-compliant equipment as well?
Like I stated before, I have always had mixed feelings on this issue, since I am guilty of liking to see a big black-smoke blowing truck grab gears going down the road just as much as the next trucker! From a business standpoint though, I believe that the unfair advantage for those breaking the rules created by the lack of enforcement after the rule was official is not a good thing for rates here in my home state. As long as we have non-compliant operators continuing to cheat the system by not making the business investment and having the overhead of newer complaint equipment taking freight at rates that don't make sense for compliant operators, having the added expense of following the rules, a situation exists that needs regulative intervention. Since it doesn't look like the rules are going anywhere now that they real, I think this bill could finally be a step toward leveling the playing field with the rules now in effect. I will continue to delve deeper into the bill as it makes its way up the chain of command and look into the details a little closer for sure!