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California Gears up for Stricter Diesel Truck Emissions Regulations

August 29, 2017

California legislators may soon target older diesel trucks in a new round of tough state emissions regulations. Photo: Jim Park
California legislators may soon target older diesel trucks in a new round of tough state emissions regulations. Photo: Jim Park

California seems determined to defy the Trump administration’s efforts to turn back the clock on The Paris Accords and other emissions control measures. Four California state senators have called for significantly increased state funding to further reduce emissions from trucks and buses in the state. The legislators said such funding is needed to improve air quality and help reduce toxic emissions along freight corridors and near ports and schools.

California state Senators Ricardo Lara, Nancy Skinner, Richard Pan, and Bob Wiechowski led the call.

In the final weeks of the 2017 legislative session, the senators are calling for $1 billion in funding from the California greenhouse gas Cap-and-Trade program to be focused on cleaner trucks and buses. This would amount to a tripling of the amount of funds spent last year.

It comes on the heels of just-released study by The Diesel Technology forum, which polled Californians and found that an overwhelming majority of respondents support tougher emissions reduction standards and technologies in the Golden State.

The Diesel Technology Forum is a national association of diesel vehicle, engine and equipment makers, suppliers and fuel providers. The survey of 2,190 registered voters found that 89% of California voters believe a balanced mix of energy and transportation options is needed to achieve cleaner air and lower carbon required by the California Air Resources Board's 2030 and 2050 deadlines.

The survey also found that some 75% of registered voters agree California must balance its investments between proven technologies and those that might benefit the future. In ddition, Californians said they see low emission vehicles and reduced fuel consumption as the largest contributors to better air quality. Of those surveyed, 73% view clean diesel technologies as positive contributors to air quality.

Calstart, which bills itself as the nation’s largest clean transportation technology industry organization, strongly backed the call made by the state senators for tougher air quality standards.

“We are at a pivotal point where the technology is emerging, and we now have the chance to move toward a future where trucks and buses produce either zero or virtually zero emissions," said Bill Van Amburg, Calstart senior vice president. "In addition to improving public health, California policies are resulting in significant new job creation. Companies are moving to California to build trucks and buses because this is where the market is growing the fastest.”

"California is at a crossroads," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "Substantial clean air challenges are yet to be met, while new aggressive climate and carbon commitments have been adopted, making decisions on fund allocations increasingly important. Our data shows 64% of Californians believe investments in clean transportation need to be balanced by continued use of existing, abundant and low-cost clean technologies and fuels such as clean diesel, at least until alternative energy sources are more available and cost-effective."

Tthe senators are calling for $1 billion in funding from the California greenhouse gas Cap-and-Trade program to be focused on cleaner trucks and buses.

In addition, California is set to receive approximately $423 million as part of the emissions settlement from the Volkswagen (VW) Environmental Mitigation Trust, part of the settlement from last year when the German automaker was found to have “fixed” passenger cars to comply with emissions standards during testing but exceed those standards during normal use. This money is earmarked for projects that immediately reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), to mitigate the excessive NOx generated by diesel VW cars operating in California. In addition, California's recently extended carbon cap-and-trade program makes available nearly $2 billion for carbon reduction projects in the 2017-2018 budget year.

“Across all regions, more than three-quarters of Californians clearly want to see this money, already earmarked for air quality mitigation, targeted to areas where it can have the greatest impact on the most people, in the most cost-effective way, targeting the largest sources of NOx emissions in a timely manner," said Schaeffer. "Policymakers should take heed that voters want state funds allocated based on a clear understanding of what all citizens and industries need on a region-by-region level."

The Diesel Technology Forum's survey data also highlighted opinions on the effectiveness of California's existing air quality regulations vary by region. Voters in the Central Valley say conditions have deteriorated over the last 10 years, while South Coast residents say conditions have improved.

Applying VW settlement funds and carbon auction revenue to replace or repower California's largest and oldest trucks, industrial marine and locomotive engines with new technology would yield immediate and significant NOx benefits at the lowest cost per ton, compared to electrification and other as-yet commercially widespread technologies, say proponents.

Trucks Could Bear the Brunt of New Regulations

The Diesel Technology Forum report also noted that only around 23% of California's commercial heavy-duty diesel trucking fleet – the largest in the United States at nearly a million vehicles – uses the newest, cleanest diesel technology, according the Forum's analysis of IHS Markit data. The national average is 30% adoption.

"It's astounding that the state that leads the nation in electric car registrations ranks 47th out of the 50 U.S. states for adoption of the latest in low-emission commercial truck technology," said Schaeffer. "Investments in future technologies, while important, won't pay significant clean air dividends for decades. In contrast, the newest and cleanest diesel engines, trucks and machines are on dealer lots today. Californians shouldn't have to wait for cleaner air when cleaner trucks are available right now."

According to the Diesel Technology Forum, some of the oldest trucks operating in California today have 60 times the emissions of a new diesel truck. Meanwhile, the newest clean diesel technologies offer 90% fewer emissions than older models, and some clean diesel options are 200 times or more cost-effective at reducing NOx than other alternative fuel strategies.

The report also cites U.S. Department of Transportation data, which noted that using the latest emissions model generated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one ton of NOx emissions may be eliminated by investing, on average, $20,000 in clean diesel technology – compared to investing $1 million in alternative fuel infrastructure. Moreover, the South Coast Air Quality Management District estimates that NOx emissions could fall by 70% or 86 tons each day if every commercial truck in the region were powered by the latest clean diesel engine.

"State air regulators have said the fastest reductions in NOx emissions in 2035 won't come from power plants or even the electrification of passenger vehicles," said Schaeffer, "but rather from the turnover of older commercial trucks powered with the latest clean diesel engines. It's a proven strategy, as evidenced by the clean truck programs enacted by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. These programs moved truckers to newer technology so quickly that port pollution was reduced by 70% in only one year."


  1. 1. jack [ August 30, 2017 @ 06:44AM ]

    Don't drive to California until the laws relax. California is going to keep screwing you if you let them.

  2. 2. Bill Van Amburg [ August 30, 2017 @ 01:59PM ]

    This story is actually incorrect on several points, not least its inaccurate headline. Let's clarify: the legislators did NOT call for new clean air regulations. They called for increased funding for clean truck and bus technologies to help clean the air. CALSTART made NO reference to new regulations: we did strongly support increased state funding for low carbon, near- and zero emissions technologies that go beyond regulations.

  3. 3. FRANK C ROCHE JR [ August 31, 2017 @ 08:54AM ]

    We've had these clean emissions trucks in the shop way more often than pre State imposed rules.Replaced turbos on a 2010 and a 2014.We had a 1977 truck that never had as turbo replaced. We have invoices to show the increased cost of keeping these so called clean trucks on the road.

  4. 4. MIchael Galorath [ August 31, 2017 @ 11:16AM ]

    Soon we will be back to bicycles and horse draw en carriages.

  5. 5. Frank martinez [ September 01, 2017 @ 02:15AM ]

    I won't travel to California,way too many laws that hurt truckers..I guess your on your own California...Just remember without us everything stops....

  6. 6. DUANE [ September 01, 2017 @ 03:15AM ]

    There are plenty of us that are just fine and happy to carry the load. The more out of state trucks that stay away, the less trucks we have here, leading to better rates. If you dont like cali, stay away.

  7. 7. TexasJester [ September 01, 2017 @ 04:28AM ]

    CA is goofy. First, there is STILL no proof that CO2 and NOx emissions have squat to do with climate change; second, most vehicles on the road aren't NOT trucks, but CARS. Third, the simple cost of the "new" technology is enough to keep most independent truckers keeping their old trucks.

    That "new" technology robs power and consumes more fuel. My boss got a glider kit when he got his new truck; he put in a pre-emissions Cat 3406E 650hp. He gets better milage and has fewer problems than the rest of us company trucks - and since he had it properly tuned, his emissions aren't much more than our trucks with DEF (another scam), EGR, and soot trap.

    Back in the 1970s when CA started all this, Detroit built 2 models of the same cars - CA legal and one for the rest of us. In the early 80s, they started making all cars CA legal, so they wouldn't take a loss if CA didn't buy their cars (kind of like when you get instructions in a package with 9 languages - the manufacturer doesn't have to make country-specific products). Then EPA got in the mix... As goes CARB, goes the EPA.

  8. 8. MrBigR504 [ September 01, 2017 @ 07:30AM ]

    Uhhh yeah Texas Jester ya darn straight burnt fossil fuel emissions have an effect on the climate! At least the smog for sure! Ask California and China! But this truck emissions crap is just that, CRAP on a truck! I too have a pre-emission 3406 Cat in my 96 W9 and so i am digging your bosses glider...ohhhh yeaaaah make room for the big kitty! But your absolutely right with a freshly rebuilt engine properly tunes puts out emissions well in the specs almost to this junk that stays in the shop with all that DEF junk running through it. I mean how your gonna use a corrosive chemical that eats up the rubber lines it runs through to dissolve and spent petroleum product and them push it out into the atmosphere and call it helping the environment? From what i hear its causing problems in California with burning of the eyes! Something is reeeal funky in the cure thats for darn sure!

  9. 9. Nemo [ September 01, 2017 @ 04:38PM ]

    They are planning on getting $1billion extra dollars, I have a way to make everyone happy. Take the money and buy old trucks that are registered in Cali. The O/O's will get paid to sell the truck and buy new efficient trucks, the state can scrap the older dirty trucks. Every one is happy except the politicians that are planning to divert the money to their own pockets.

  10. 10. Dennis [ September 02, 2017 @ 10:47AM ]

    If California was really serious about reducing smog they mandate that there beat least 2 people in each car during commute hours. That would at least reduce the number of vehicles on the road by half. That would have to make a significant reduction in co2 and nox.

  11. 11. mike severt [ September 03, 2017 @ 06:37AM ]

    we are a small co. we run 15-20 trucks a week from east coast to the west coast, for years we ran cat,engines over a million mile before any problems, from 2008-2015 we almost went out of business . We couldnt stay out of the shop. The shops were all full, you go in on Fri and they look at you mon or tue. For the last few years we spend a lot of time recovering loads. We haul produce back and you have just so many hour to deliver. I think the pa has put a lot of good trucking co. out of busines. I hope Trump recognizes the problems the feds have caused and does something to correct it.While im writing i feel like I should say something bout eld. We pick up at every produce shed id cal. we have sat at some of these sheds as much as 24 he's, its very common to sit for 8-10 hrs, thats when we get caught upon our sleep, now we have to leave the shed and give up our appt.of show on duty while we there. This the stupidest rule that i have ever seen. I hope the dot figures something ,before they close several more trucking co.

  12. 12. David [ September 05, 2017 @ 07:00AM ]

    I would love to see a story on how much pollution is created by having this EPA technology on these trucks. More wreckers pulling trucks. What about the failing parts? Does it not pollute to mine the material and produce them? And ship them? Extra trucks hauling DEF all over the country. More trucks being produced because they don't last as long. Looking at the whole picture, are we really polluting less than we were in 2007?

  13. 13. Louis Conti [ September 05, 2017 @ 08:09AM ]

    The tragedy is that there is no regard of the carbon footprint being created by scrapping out trucks that still have 20 years of lifespan. More reliable and often paid off, these older trucks are the back bone of the industry. Are there any alternatives that can prevent the wholesale slaughter of small business owners and their fleets?

  14. 14. Jim Bihlman [ September 05, 2017 @ 10:56AM ]

    I couldn't afford to upgrade my truck to new CA standards. I sold it and moved to AR. Nobody out here can afford to drive to CA.

  15. 15. Frank Schultz [ December 13, 2017 @ 02:43AM ]

    These idiots are doing more harm than good. All these emissions garbage is causing mechanical failures, more fuel and oil consumption and driving up the cost of good in California. What do they expect to happen with all the vehicles being forced off the roads because of new emission requirements? They go to landfills, get shipped to Mexico and other countries. Not to mention 1 state is not going to clean the air for the masses.

  16. 16. Amin [ January 24, 2018 @ 04:15PM ]

    That stupid regulation is just for diesel trucks or gasoline either?

  17. 17. Parmdeep [ March 14, 2018 @ 09:32AM ]

    Filter do shit on truck u are killing the engine's and then no gas mileage for truck that's what dpf do chocking the engine , u guys are not a driver, u r not practical people's some a hole need more profit and want to be becomes more a hole rich that's by u make law's , u gays for truck and truckers, we put food on ur table and u people treat us as trash on a road dis respect behavior by cars every cars want to be front of truck and then slow down , bitch this is not automatic transmission its take time to run we go warehouse or any site won't let us (driver ) use a restrooms. Oh driver can't use inside restroom in warehose.. driver have to use portables restroom...Ok this is trash treatment for trucker... discrimination against trucker... shit happened in road blamed on drive and every singles blame to trucker
    where is law now????

  18. 18. JoeDaniels [ April 09, 2018 @ 05:08PM ]

    I have a 2016 Ram 2500 Diesel only 1 oil change 20,000 miles. Got new from dealer and they are making me SMOG it.


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