The California Diesel Truck Question

What does it Mean to be Legal?

Uncertainty is not good for business planning. However, a state of uncertainty is where the trucking industry presently finds itself in relation to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rule adopted in April 2023.

ICSA has been keeping its members informed on the progression of the ACF rule. We developed a white paper and held a webinar with an industry expert explaining the rule. Both are posted on the ICSA website for review under the Resources tab.

The CARB ACF regulation created state pollution standards for heavy-duty trucks that are much stricter than those established in the federal Clean Air Act. The ACF also mandated truckers operating in California – regardless of where they are domiciled – to register their vehicles with CARB, pay annual registration fees and submit to pollution testing every year.

There are special rules for carriers with over 50 trucks. While most ICSA members operate fewer than 50 trucks, it is likely that the agency will begin to ratchet down that number to smaller fleets. ICSA also believes that those members operating drayage trucks that serve ports and railyards will come under the provision that only ZEV drayage trucks will be allowed to register with CARB.

In late December, uncertainty descended when a court told CARB that it must first obtain a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or have EPA determine that a waiver is not necessary, before CARB can enforce the ACF rule. CARB acknowledged that they had not met the waiver requirement and issued a public notice that it would not enforce the ACF regulation until it obtains an EPA waiver.

With ACF currently held in abeyance, are diesel drayage trucks still legal? Yes – until further notice.

Will EPA grant CARB a waiver? Most likely, yes. The federal and state agencies are generally in agreement on reducing pollution from large trucks. EPA is promoting clean energy at every turn. After the waiver is granted, industry groups will likely file lawsuits challenging the waiver.

CARB is currently telling truckers to keep their records “as of January 1, 2024.” If a waiver comes, CARB intends to implement the ACF rules retroactively to January 1, as if the delay awaiting the EPA waiver never happened.

CARB will probably not take enforcement action against truckers caught by the changing compliance deadlines. Instead, diesel drayage trucks not already registered with the state may find themselves denied entrance to ports and railyards. ZEV drayage trucks and “high priority fleets” may be given new registration, paperwork filing, and procurement deadlines, again reverting to the status quo as of January 1. Other ACF regulations may be bumped out a bit further into the future.

FMCSA Proposes Increased Flexibility in CDL Testing

06 February 2024

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some state driver licensing offices were closed and state licensing employees absent. To allow licensing to continue during the pandemic, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued several waivers for continued testing and skill evaluation of applicants for commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs).

Medical Examiners (MEs) and Login.gov

06 February 2024

Under a notice posted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FMCSA) January 24, medical examiners have until February 23, 2024, to register with Login.gov and update their contact information.