CARB revises ‘SmartWay’ rule, seeks comments

Carriers that use owner-operators or other carriers to serve California could be responsible for ensuring that the equipment meets upcoming aerodynamic and tire standards under revised language released Thursday, Sept. 17, by the California Air Resources Board.

Among CARB’s changes and clarifications to the agency’s regulation for reducing greenhouse gases from heavy-duty vehicles is language stating that the rule applies to motor carriers that use — or cause to be used — 53-foot box-type trailers and the tractors that pull them in long-haul operations within, into and out of California.

Comments on CARB’s proposed modifications are due Oct. 2, and the final regulation is expected to be issued in November. The regulation often is called simply the “SmartWay” rule because it requires the use of equipment certified or verified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program. Mandates would take effect on model year 2011 and newer equipment purchased on or after Jan. 1, 2010.

New trailers and sleeper-equipped tractors would have to incorporate aerodynamic devices or styling and low rolling-resistance tires; day cabs would have to meet the requirement for low rolling-resistance tires. In general, older trailers would have to be retrofit by Jan. 1, 2013, although CARB is offering the option of a phase-in schedule that gives carriers more time for the final trailers to be retrofit provided they get an early start. Older tractors would have to be equipped with low rolling-resistance tires by Jan. 1, 2012, but tractors older than model year 2010 never would have to be modified for aerodynamic performance.

Among the numerous changes from CARB’s December 2008 draft, the Sept. 17 draft would:

  • Require that carriers using the trailer phase-in option retrofit their newest trailers first;
  • Exempt refuse and livestock trailers;
  • Redefine a “fleet” as all equipment held under common ownership or control even if operated in different subsidiaries or divisions;
  • Clarify the definitions of cab side extender, curtain-side trailer, drop-frame trailer, dry-van trailer, flow control device, front trailer fairing, refrigerated-van trailer, sleeper cab and trailer side skirt;
  • Clarify the definition of “owner” to specify more precisely the parties responsible for compliance, including leased vehicles and federal government vehicles;
  • Modify the definition of “short-haul tractor” to refer only to tractors that travel less than 50,000 miles per year; and
  • Add definitions for “local-haul tractor” and “local-haul trailer” to describe tractors and trailers that travel within a 100-mile radius of their local-haul base.
  • One condition on CARB’s approval of the regulations in December 2008 was that the rules would take effect only if EPA established performance-based certification requirements for certified SmartWay tractors. EPA established interim certification requirements and test methods for tractor design and performance on Aug. 17. CARB seeks comment on those requirements and test methods.

    More information is available on CARB’s website. For a Sept. 14 presentation by CARB covering the basics of the SmartWay rule, click here. For the actual regulatory language, click here.