This article originally appeared in the 2018 September/October issue of PARCEL.


    CARB is the acronym for the California Air Resources Board. Several years ago, the board promulgated three related sets of regulations intended to improve air quality in California. One of these is colloquially known as the “Truck and Bus Regulations.”

    The focus of this set of regulations is to reduce particulate matter (PM) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions from existing diesel-powered vehicles operating in California. The gist of the Truck and Bus Regulations is to require phased-in retrofitting of exhaust filters to capture pollutants before they would be emitted into the atmosphere.

    In addition to the requirements directly related to motor carriers and other operators of certain types of vehicles, the requirements also place an affirmative duty upon persons hiring motor carriers to verify that they are in compliance with the regulations. The regulations impose substantial fines for failure to do so — at least $1,000 per incident and more than $10,000 for multiple incidents. Significantly, these fines can pass through to the person hiring the trucker, the consignors, and the consignees.

    Until recently, it was believed by persons other than the CARB that the requirements only applied to shippers and brokers with facilities and offices located within California. However, two brokers recently reached settlements in the amount of $100,000 and $52,250 with CARB regarding proposed fines for alleged violations of these regulations — even though neither broker maintained a physical office in California.

    Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with CARB’s interpretation of its own rules, the message for shippers is that they must now set up internal procedures to comply with the requirements of the Truck and Bus Regulations. A full analysis of what is needed is beyond the scope of this article; however, the gist is that a shipper hiring a motor carrier who will be traveling in the state of California needs to verify that each hired company is either in compliance with the CARB regulations or has reported compliance to CARB. It should also be noted that although there was no evidence of non-compliance in the cases involving the two brokers, the two brokers had not maintained records sufficient to demonstrate compliance.

    In addition to the Truck and Bus Regulations, there are also a set of rules relating to diesel-fueled transport refrigeration units (TRU). Unlike the Truck and Bus Regulations, it was understood within the industry from the time that these rules went into effect that they applied to brokers and shippers both outside and within California.

    There is yet a third set of regulations colloquially known as the Greenhouse Gas Rules. These rules relate to the physical design of tractors and trailers to make them more efficient. An example would be requirements for streamlining to reduce air resistance. Until now, it was believed that these rules, just as the Truck and Bus Regulations, only apply to California-based shippers and brokers. But given the recent imposition of fines relating to the Truck and Bus Regulations, shippers are cautioned that this is no longer a safe assumption.

    All for now!

    Brent Wm. Primus, J.D., is the CEO of Primus Law Office, P.A. and the Senior Editor of transportlawtexts, inc. Previous columns, including those of William J. Augello, may be found on the Parcel website at http://parcelindustry.com/by-author-1130-1.html. Your questions are welcome at brent@primuslawoffice.com.

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