Presently, pollution is one of the greatest concerns around the globe. Most of the countries throughout the world have formulated strict regulations in order to minimize pollution levels. In United States, California is the state that has emissions regulations of the highest strictness level. These regulations also include buses and trucks that are operating within California to be upgraded in order to reduce the level of emissions. This upgrade primarily consists of installing a fuel particulate matter filter known as PM filter. California has an independent regulatory board that makes regulations to control air pollution. The board is well known by the name of California Air Resources Board or CARB. The regulations implemented by CARB are applicable to all the federally as well as privately owned diesel buses and trucks. These regulations are also applicable to publically and privately owned buses that have their gross vehicle weight rating of larger than 14 thousand pounds.
California Air Resources Board (CARB)
California Air Resources Board was formed in 1967 by merging the Bureau of Air Sanitation with the California Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board . CARB regulation was initially passed during the end of year 2008. It included approval of the Truck and Bus regulation in order to reduce emissions of oxides of Nitrogen and particulate matter. It was imposed on the operating trucks and buses in California’s region. A large proportion of trucks operating in California, at that time, were more than 20 years old while having no or low emission controls. This situation in California resulted in high level of emissions of pollutants including particulate matter into the environment. The situation was even worst for the big cities of California that included San Francisco and Los Angeles. According to researches, buses and trucks in California produce more than 30 percent of total nitrogen oxide emissions within the state .
Amongst the states of US, California is the one and only state with a regulatory board for air pollution caused by transport vehicles. The reason behind it is that California was the only state of United States that already had a regulatory board prior passing of the Clean Air Act by federal government. States other than California are given two options i.e. either to follow the CARB regulations or the federally issued policies/Acts; however, these states may not formulate their regulations like California.
The purpose of forming the CARB regulation is related to improving the air quality through placing controls over emissions of diesel vehicles that are used in California. The regulation has become effective during start of this year (i.e. January, 2014) for the vehicles with engines that were manufactured before 2010. Strict regulations pertaining to emission controls were implemented by California due to high level of pollution in Los Angeles. The emissions standards at federal level were developed in 1990 through the Clean Air Act Amendments. The diesel particulate filter, aimed at reducing pollution through filtering the emission gases in compliance with CARB regulation, is a device that filters out around 85-100 % of the particles and soot from the exhaust of the vehicles on which these are installed. It is considered that in most cases, this filtering device leaves the environment with better quality air than before. The cost of a single filtering device is more than USD 2,000. Considerable maintenance costs also incur during the life span of one filtering device. To sum up the points, CARB regulations have two major effects. One is the cost of the device that is borne by the transporters whereas the other effect in on the air pollution which gets reduced .
Mission Statement of CARB
The mission statement of CARB is as quoted below: -
“To promote and protect public health, welfare and ecological resources through the effective and efficient reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering the effects on the economy of the state.”
Goals of CARB
Following are the major goals of CARB based on which the regulations are formulated by the board members: -
- Reducing the Emission of pollutant Gases in California
- Protecting the public from the exposure of toxic air contaminants
- Providing leadership in the implementation as well as enforcement of the Air Pollution Control Regulations
- Providing clean and safe air to all inhabitants of California
- Decisions to be based on the best economic and scientific information
- Providing innovative ways to people for complying with the CARB regulations
- Providing high-quality service to CARB clients
Divisions of CARB
CARB consists of nine divisions, functions of which are mentioned below: -
- Administrative Services: It includes a customer service, accounting and human resources
- Enforcement: It enforces the regulations pertaining to air pollution sources
- Mobile Source Control and Operations: It regulates motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses, marine vehicles, construction vehicles, and all small engines
- Monitoring & Laboratory: It monitors the air quality trends within the state
- Office of Information Services: This division provides information as well as management of Internet systems
- Planning & Technical Support: This division implements strategies aimed at improving the air quality.
- Research: The research division is responsible to gather scientific information while developing technology that protects public health against the negative effects of polluted air.
- Stationary Source: The Stationary Source division is responsible to monitor as well as regulate fuels provided to motor vehicles in California. It also does same for consumer products as well as stationary sources of energy such as power plants.
The regulations of CARB are way stricter as compared to the federal regulations. Especially, CARB’s regulations are extremely stringent on emission controls of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. CARB has strongly emphasized on the requirement of retrofitting old vehicles with the new filters. The gasoline available to Californians has very less content of benzene, hydrocarbons and sulfur as compared to any other state of US.
CARB has identified various categories of vehicles as per their emissions level. The categories as identified by CARB are briefly explained below:
- Low Emission Vehicle (LEV): This is the worst category of vehicle in terms of low emission levels. As per CARB regulation, every single vehicle that is sold after the year 2004 must have to be of at least LEV category or better.
- Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV): Vehicles from this category have lower emissions than a LEV vehicle. These vehicles emit around 50% cleaner air as compared to average new vehicle of LEV category.
- Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV): As per CARB regulation, the SULEV has 90% cleaner air emissions as compared to a standard LEV.
- Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV): The PZEV category includes those vehicles that have emissions level like SULEV, but they also have no evaporative emissions. Evaporative emissions are the emissions in which the fuel of the vehicle itself evaporates when the vehicle is running idle.
- Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV): The ZEV category vehicles are those vehicles that do not emit any pollutant in the air. This means that there is no tailpipe emission in ZEV. These vehicles include hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in electric vehicles.
Highlights in the history of CARB
The major decisions taken by California Air Resources Board include following:
- In 1971, CARB adopted the very first nitrogen oxide emission standards in US.
- CARB determined emission regulations mandating catalytic converters in 1975.
- The board implemented a new rule in 1988 involving implementation of the restriction to the vehicles’ owners from 1994 to have diagnostic computers installed on-board that indicates to the driver to check engine due to bad emissions.
- CARB created a new mandate involving zero emission vehicles in 1990. This mandate placed the restriction on the vehicle manufacturers to produce at least 10% zero emission vehicles before the year 2003. Vehicle manufacturers sued CARB for such decision especially those companies were active in doing so who were strongly convinced that they won’t be able to meet the deadline. Therefore, CARB decided to incorporate a special system of credits that is based on the fuel-efficient vehicles produced by vehicle manufacturers. These credits add up in order to fulfill the requirements of CARB.
- CARB amended the Low Emission Vehicle regulations while extending their applicability on the sport utility vehicles in the year 1998.
- CARB took step in regulating the greenhouse gases and formulated a comprehensive law in the year 2006; however, the federal government has not allowed this law to be implemented.
Issues faced by Logistics
The business owners are highly against the regulations formulated by CARB and they believe that the cost of implementation is very costly for the owners of small businesses. The recent regulations are directly or indirectly affecting all the sector of industrial manufacturing, and a study has stated a figure of affected businesses in California is 170,000. In addition to business vehicles also got affected by the regulations and the estimated number is more than a million. The large companies of trucks can easily replace old vehicles with new ones, but this strategy is not a feasible option for the owners and therefore they are forced to retrofit vehicles. The cost of fixing filter varies between $15k and $20k and it is quite expensive as compared to the worth of the truck which is around $10k. CARB provided exemption to many small trucking operators which are not able to cope up the regulation and deadlines. CARB has asked them to apply for exemption from regulation that means they will not be bound to fix filters but along with this the operators have been restricted to specific areas. Exempted truckers are only allowed to work in permitted areas and cannot operate outside the demarcated areas. Any breach of agreement or non-compliance will lead to charges and penalty .
CARB provided discount for small scale business owners, but the regulations are still valid and applicable. Relaxation has been given in terms of time frame, and an extended deadlines are provided keeping in view the financial constraints of small business truckers. For one vehicle the time given for filter installation is up to 1st of Jan 2014, for the installation of filters in two and three vehicles is up to 1st Jan 2015 and 1st of Jan 2016 respectively. CARB has also asked to replace old engine vehicles by the year 2020, and all the automobiles are made to have engine model of year 2010 by the year 2023. The operating owners of trucks frequently register complains that the new set of regulations formed by CARB is either not practically possible or too much expensive to be able to cope up with. The current situations of fuel, engines, technology and economy are not supportive in this context. CARB has made diesel filters compulsory for the industrial sector thereby increasing the cut down of trees and according to recent studies area of about 4000 acres has been cut down .
CARB is incorporating the policy for the trucks weighing 26k pounds or more and have been manufactured between the years 2000-2014 to fit DPFs. This device is aimed to detect all toxic substances, soot, debris, ashes and can trace all unhealthy emissions. Automobiles that are not able to follow this instruction are banned to travel in California and in addition to this fine from $1k-$10k may be charged per day. Truck owners have complained that this device doesn’t get well-installed in old vehicles. Reported by a spokesperson of CTA that it has been seen that this device in old vehicles causes damages to the engine and decreases the lifetime of the automobile.
Proper maintenance of installed filters is needed, and it has been mandatory that all the vehicles owners with filters have asked to keep a regular check and cleaning of the filters. In the year 2011, an incident took place in the vehicle and was caught by the fire. The filter installed in that vehicle had been approved by CARB. This incident led the CARB to pull off all the suspected filters back from stores and market. It has been reported by Erik White that a specific metallic substance has a tendency to get melt under high pressure and temperature. CARB ensured that the filters that have been left in the market are not going to be dangerous, and mostly the filters used in diesel vehicles are made to resist heat. CARB had taken all the necessary precautionary measures after the incident to ensure safety and to avoid any such occurrence in the future. If any engine catches fire in the future that will be purely because of the negligence of the owner in correctly following the given guidelines and maintenance journal. Retrofits filters are not an option to practice in long run and all the measures taken by CARB are aimed to make truckers to replace their older vehicle with ones. Operators continue to face the additional cost of $15k to install the filter even though most of the old vehicles are not even worth this amount. According to the studies conducted by CTA the projected cost of this plan no less a $1 billion each year.
The CARB regulations have various financial aspects that are aimed at helping the truck owners to retrofit their vehicles in order to successfully comply with CARB standards. These financial aspects include loan grants as well as loan guarantees. In this regard, around 1 Billion USD were made available and the same was spent for purchase of new and cleaner trucks. In another attempt to help truck owners, USD 10 Million were given in terms of loan guarantees. As per CARB’s official, Mr. White, the board has recommended an additional amount of USD 8 Million for the same purpose. The logistics industry is also getting badly affected by the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program of CARB. This program stipulates increasing the use of transportation fuels with low carbon content. As per the experts of logistics industry, the LCFS is way ahead of the technological level of the truck being used by the industry. Experts are of the opinion that the most advanced versions of commercially available trucks are not able to run on fuel that has biodiesel content of around 20%. Another issue that arises here is that the warrantees offered by vehicle manufacturing companies would be violated if CARB’s LCFS standard is followed with true letter and spirit. CARB has also mandated about installation of truck skirts on all vehicles which is not agreed by the logistics industry. The truck skirts are aimed at reducing air drag and are installed between the trailer and the tractor wheels. CARB has also mandated use of tires with low rolling resistance in order to reduce road friction. Both of these mandates are rejected by the truck owners due to the additional costs. Another observation from the logistics industry’s experts is that the board bases its calculations on the trucks operating at around 60 miles per hour whereas the trucks in reality travel at around 55 miles per hour for around 40% of their operation time .
There can be either short term or long term strategies that may be implemented to meet CARB requirements. The short term solution includes avoiding California for transportation among states through shifting the transportation lanes. The study showed that over 30% of transporters would quit using the routes of California, and more than 10% have never used same after implementation of CARB regulation in California .
Views of Critics of CARB
Following are the main points highlighted by some critics of CARB :
- Reformulated Fuel: As per the critics of CARB, the board had mandated the reformulation of diesel fuel prior enough testing during 1990s. This newly reformulated fuel damaged engines of thousands of vehicles throughout California and more than 10 million USD of the government were spent on the replacement of a large number of such engines. The legislatures and CARB do not openly admit such wrong decisions.
- MTBE: MTBE is a chemical that is added in gasoline due to CARB regulation. MTBE results in contamination of the ground water. MTBE has been banned due to such poisonous effects after research has proved it to be of great danger to the environment.
- Electric Car mandate: Almost a decade ago that CARB directed the automobile sector to develop Hybrid cars. The reason behind was to ensure that 5% of all the cars in US should be electric and hybrid cars. Studies established the fact that electric cars are fraud and only after CARB was forced to acknowledge this fact it allowed the manufacturing of hybrid cars. Back then the Japanese people were far ahead of Americans in manufacturing sector. This has cost around 200,000 jobs in US automobile industry.
The cost of regulations imposed by CARB directly affects the end consumers of goods. Trucking companies are facing ever increasing expenses in order to cope up with the reservations of CARB. The increase in the cost of goods transportation is compensated by a great hike up prices are becoming a reason of a huge number of unemployment in US. One of the owners of a small scale trucking businesses has narrated that his business is near to shut down, and his employees are facing difficulties in finding new job in such desolate economic situation of US. It is very clear stated by many owners of transportation companies that CARB has imposed very strict regulations for the climate of California. CARB has not taken into account any advice from the advisory committee and has emerged as an independent regulatory body. CARB should be held answerable to the people of US and Washington .
Most of the countries throughout the world have formulated strict regulations in order to minimize pollution levels. In United States, California is the state that has emissions regulations of the highest strictness level. California has an independent regulatory board that makes regulations to control air pollution. The board is known by the name of California Air Resources Board or CARB and was created in the year 1967. The regulations implemented by CARB are applicable to all the federally as well as privately owned diesel buses and trucks. California is the only state of US having a regulatory board for air pollution caused by transport vehicles.
CARB has implemented regulations regarding installation of advanced filters in trucks and buses. The cost of a single filtering device is more than USD 2,000, and considerable maintenance costs also incurs during the life span of one filtering device. CARB has nine major divisions each of which have a distinct area of responsibility. CARB has categorized vehicle in five major categories based on their emission levels.
Logistics in California is greatly affected by the CARB regulations. Especially, transporters having old vehicles have to spend additional money on retrofitting and upgrading of their vehicles. This cost in turn has an increase in price for the consumers of California. CARB has been highly criticized by economists and other experts due to the bad effects of its regulations on the logistics and the overall economy of the state.
Despite the differences among CARB’s regulations and the logistics industry’s observations, CARB has been actively enforcing these regulations which as a result increase the cost of transportation in California. This increased cost of transportation results in increased prices of goods for the consumers.
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