Chalk up another victory for big guys as California’s Fifth District Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling from 2016 that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) overstepped its authority in allowing small trucking companies to delay complying with certain emissions regulations.

The Superior Court of California’s Central Division originally ruled against CARB in June 2016, but CARB appealed. The case was brought to the court by the California Trucking Association (CTA) and one of the big association’s members, John R Lawson Rock and Oil of Fresno. These plaintiffs alleged that CARB failed to follow proper administrative procedures when it granted small fleets a reprieve from certain emissions standards.

“The appellate court’s decision is a significant victory for CTAand compliant truck fleets of all sizes who spent millions to comply with CARB’s 2008 Truck and Bus Rule only to have the rules of the game changed midway through,” said Shawn Yadon, CEO of the CTAin a statement. “The so-called grace period put compliant fleets at a financial and competitive disadvantage to those that, year after year, dragged their feet or refused to comply with the rule.”

Speaking for the little guys, Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications for the Western States Trucking Association, which represents many small fleets in California, was dismayed by the ruling.

“It’s a victory for those who have done virtually everything to use CARB rules to shaft smaller carriers,” he told HDT. “We were alone as a (trucking) association getting owners more time to comply. As things stand now, there is virtually no meaningful extensions and everyone must comply.”

Ribs of the Case
ITA and Lawson Rock and Oil argued that CARB was creating an uneven playing field by allowing certain companies to forgo the financial burden of complying with emissions standards.

For its part, CARB argued that it made the provisions because the costs of complying with emissions regulations have a much higher impact on very small trucking companies, those with three or fewer trucks, compared to those with large fleets.

Ultimately, the appeals court affirmed the original ruling in favor of the plaintiffs that CARB had, in fact, overstepped its authority in allowing small fleets to delay compliance and failed to consider the economic and environmental impacts that delaying the rule for would have before it made modifications to the rules. We’ll keep you posted on the next steps in this process.

By Brandon Pensick, ECA President
Email: [email protected]