EPA allows California to regulate reefer units

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, Jan. 16, cleared the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to begin enforcing on July 17 its regulations to reduce particulate matter in transport refrigeration units (TRUs). The rules — which apply to trailers, straight trucks, rail cars and shipping containers — will require TRUs older than seven years old to be retrofitted or replaced for lower emissions. CARB needed authorization because state regulation of engine standards generally is preempted by federal environmental law.

Under the CARB rules, model 2001 and older TRUs must reduce PM emissions by 50 percent by July 16. The original date was the end of 2008, but it was delayed by challenges from the transportation industry. Those same units must reduce PM emissions by 85 percent by 2015. Model 2002 units must reduce PM 50 percent by the end of this year and by 85 percent by 2016. Model 2003 units must reduce PM by 85 percent by the end of 2010, and the phaseout continues until TRUs with 2013 off-road diesel engines become available.

Options for compliance include replacing the TRU with one that’s seven years old or less, repowering with engines less than seven years old, retrofitting with CARB-verified diesel particulate filters, dispatching only California-compliant TRUs into the state or using alternative technologies.

Arguing that CARB’s regulations had national implications, would force expensive upgrades or replacements and would sharply reduce the value of thousands of refrigerated trucks and trailers, the American Trucking Associations, Truck Renting and Leasing Association and others opposed CARB’s request for a waiver more than three years ago. But EPA on Jan. 16 said opponents had failed to show that California’s regulations don’t qualify for the authorization CARB sought. Under the law, EPA must grant waivers if it determines the state standards protect health at least as much as the federal standards and if the state regulations meet other requirements spelled out in the statute.

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers

It’s unclear what the next step might be for opponents of CARB’s TRU rules. “We are reviewing EPA’s decision and the basis for it,” said Rick Holcomb, ATA’s general counsel and senior vice president for law and regulatory affairs, on Jan. 16.

For more information on the TRU rule, click here or call the TRU Helpline at 888-878-2826 for compliance assistance.