Rumors circulating that the California Air Resources Board staff is having a tough time getting the changes in the on- and off-road emissions rules pulled together were confirmed when a planned board meeting to announce the changes in September was postponed until Nov. 18-19.

William Davis, EVP at the Southern California Contractors Association, says that as things stand right now, Tom Cackette, chief deputy executive officer for the agency, indicated the schedule slide was due to not getting the scientific report completed in a timely manner and to other issues regarding the emissions inventory. 

The SCCA, along with AGC national, California and San Diego and the Construction Industry Air Quality Coalition, has been meeting with CARB to go over proposed revisions.

The CARB ordered staff to prepare a new report on the health effects of diesel particulate matter and NOx emissions to replace the discredited Tran Report, prepared last year by a staff member who lied about his scientific credentials. Since then the “science” in the Tran Report has been exposed as not making a case for any health effects for PM. Real scientists with real Phd’s who have received CARB grants in the past have agreed there are no health effects in California, Davis says.

The emissions inventory has been exposed as a fraud as well. Sierra Research developed a study at the behest of AGC that demonstrated the CARB off-road emissions inventory over-estimated pollutants from construction equipment by more than 350%. CARB staff does not agree with that statement, Davis says, adding that CARB says the over-estimate is only 140% to 200%. Such nitpickers!

Still, the CARB staff has been unable to produce any documentation to prove it. Davis says Sierra Research’s information came from the CARB D.O.O.R.S. registration program, meaning real machines, real data, not models.

(D.O.O.R.S., Diesel Off-Road On-Line Reporting System, is a CARB program that monitors emissions inventory based on the number of registered equipment. Just a reminder: If you haven’t registered your off-road equipment as yet, you can be fined!)

According to the CIAQC, CARB still has not provided an updated emission inventory for off-road equipment notwithstanding repeated requests to do so. CARB has not provided any data to support its conclusion or refute the findings of Sierra Research, yet it is moving forward with proposed changes planned for a – now November – approval.

The proposed CARB amendments broadly outlined are:

1. Two-year a delay of the regulation start date.

2.  Allow equipment turnover to count toward PM Best Available Control Technology (BACT) requirements (retrofit installations), effectively reducing PM retrofit requirements to 12% per year.

3.  Extension of double credits for retrofits.

4.  Remove the current 2013 balloon payment.

5.  Increase the low-use threshold.

6.  Maintain NOx turnover rate for a longer period (i.e. fleets continue 8-10% horsepower turn-over for a longer period affects 2017 and later). 

The CIAQC says it is currently evaluating CARB’s latest proposal. It is also developing an alternative approach to recommend to CARB that will allow contractors and fleet owners with off-road equipment, heavy-duty trucks and portable engines to combine their separate fleets into a single fleet for compliance purposes. This “bubble” approach will reduce the burden of complying with separate CARB regulations for those that wish to use it.

So, bottom line, CARB punted until after the election, which means – what exactly?