ARA welcomes changes to California's emissions regulations

By Murray Pollok08 October 2010

The American Rental Association (ARA) and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) have welcomed the decision by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to change its proposed regulations on off-road diesel emissions.

The ammendments - to be approved at a CARB meeting on 16-17 December - have delayed implementation by at least two years and for some fleets until 1 January 2014 and removed onerous requirements for the fitting of soot filters.

The original ruling, adopted in July 2007 and affecting around 150000 pieces of equipment, including construction plant, would have required the fitting of soot filters and the replacement of older, dirtier engines with new engines.

These measures were scheduled to be implemented from March 2010 for larger fleets, with medium and small-sized fleets included through to 2015, and would have had a major cost impact on rental businesses.

Both ARA and AGC had contested the emissions data that CARB was using as the basis for the ruling.

John McClelland, ARA's vice president for government affairs, said ARA focused on CARB's model of how much fuel was used in off-road equipment to determine emissions; "Our analysis was that the fuel use figures they used were four times greater than what we could verify using independent data sets, including data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency. A lot of evidence suggested they were over-estimating emissions from off-road equipment.

He said it appeared that CARB was "now proposing a rule that eliminates the particulate matter requirements, which would have been the most difficult for rental companies to comply with".

Mr McClelland said using CARB's compliance model with its own rental fleet data ARA had shown that "someone with the cleanest fleet could have been unable to comply with the rule as implemented and forced to needlessly eliminate certain pieces of equipment from a rental fleet before normal attrition. That means a company would have had to take virtually new equipment and eliminate it from use. The rule was overkill and we convinced them that it was overkill".

CARB is now holding a series of workshops up to 12 October to present its draft proposals for new on-road and off-road emissions regulations. A final draft is expected to be published in early November followed by a 45-day period for formal comments before the meeting in December.

CARB said the proposed amendments would streamline the compliance process and offer businesses additional time and flexible options to meet requirements. If approved, the changes will:

• Delay start of requirements until January 1, 2014

• Increase the number of "low-use" equipment exempted

• Provide simpler compliance options for the smallest fleets

• Extend benefits for businesses that comply before their deadline

• Lower annual requirements to clean up engines

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