The Associated General Contractors of America and the staff of the California Air Resources Board have reached an agreement on proposed changes to the state’s off-road diesel rule designed to give the local construction industry time to recover from the recession while protecting air quality. The proposed changes, which need approval from the board in December, provide needed relief for an industry that has lost four out of 10 jobs since the start of the downturn, and still lowers emissions below the levels that the Board originally sought to achieve.
The American Rental Association also proposed changes to CARB by submitting its science-based analysis of peer-reviewed literature and data for review earlier this year. The efforts of the two organizations resulted in draft proposals and amended language for new on-road and off-road emissions regulations that are expected to benefit the equipment rental industry as well as contractors and construction companies.
“The proposed changes promise relief for struggling construction workers and improvements for the state’s air quality,” said Mike Kennedy, AGC general counsel, noting that the association will continue to work with CARB staff on some of the details of the complex proposal.
Kennedy explained that the proposed changes are based on new and far lower estimates of the emissions from the off-road diesel equipment in the construction industry. The proposed changes call for the Board to delay its emissions standards for off-road diesel equipment until 2014, to ease the annual burden employers have to bear, and to give contractors greater flexibility in determining how to comply. The proposed changes also call for the Board to give contractors credit for the efforts they have already made to reduce emissions and to reward contractors for voluntarily reducing emissions before 2014. However, the proposed changes would also extend the rule further into the future.
John McClelland, ARA’s vice president for government affairs, said ARA most recently focused on CARB’s model of how much fuel was used in off-road equipment to determine emissions.
“When the California Air Resources Board first started to look at these issues more than five years ago, the American Rental Association was proactive and has worked with CARB staff members throughout the process,” said Christine Wehrman, ARA executive vice president and CEO. “All of our effort and determination has resulted in getting regulations that are fair for ARA members.”
CARB is holding a series of workshops through Oct. 12 to present its draft proposals and language for new on-road and off-road emissions regulations. A final draft is expected to be published in early November followed by a 45-day period for formal comments. CARB is scheduled to meet Dec. 16-17 and expected to then consider the revised regulations. ARA plans to submit formal comments as well as have representatives testify at the CARB meeting.
“Our analysis was that the fuel use figures they used were four-times greater than what we could verify using independent data sets, including data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency,” McClelland said. “A lot of evidence suggested they were over-estimating emissions from off-road equipment.”
Kennedy said it was encouraging that state regulators took the time to study and confirm the industry’s estimates, and allowed the information to shape their recommendations.
CARB has made copies of its proposals and additional information about the rulemaking available online at www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/ordiesel/meetings.htm.